Jimmy Clausen Being Sucker-Punched Is A Black Eye on All of Us

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst INovember 24, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 21: Jimmy Clausen #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish calls a play in the huddle against the Univeristy of Connecticut Huskies at Notre Dame Stadium on November 21, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. Connecticut defeated Notre Dame 33-30 in double overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It's that time of year again.

People around America will be forced to the family table and gorge themselves while watching some painful football contests featuring both the pathetic Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders.

What a way to say thanks, NFL executives.

Of course, that is nothing compared to what a Notre Dame fan is alleged of doing this past Sunday following the Fighting Irish loss to the Connecticut Huskies in overtime.

Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen was apparently at CJ's bar with his family when he was "sucker-punched" by a fan. Clausen's swollen eye won't stop Irish eyes from weeping though, as Notre Dame appears to be heading towards a 6-6 record and a regime change.

Apparently this Irish fan wanted to say thanks for the memories with a knuckle sandwich.

Obviously, the situation in South Bend is far from happy, but this "sucker-punch" heard round the world is really a sad testament to the current sports culture in America.

Let's face it, today the fans feels more empowered than ever.  I know, I have been there.  When the crowd is roaring and the opposing team makes a mistake, we like to take credit.  We made them throw that interception, we made them false start.

Fans feel like they are part of the team, thus we feel entitled to be mad, to voice our frustrations.  Well voicing our frustration and punching out a future first-round draft pick is not exactly the same thing.

We need a moment of clarity boys and girls.  We all love sports, that is why we're on the Bleacher Report writing and commenting on articles.  However, it is not the end all be all.

Notre Dame may be the University of Football, but it is also a school built on morality and discipline.  Neither of those were on display this past Sunday.

I get it, fans feel disappointed.  They have done their part and feel like the football team has not lived up to their end of the bargain.  The frustration in South Bend is matched by the frustration in Charlottesville, Va., College Park, Md., and Memphis, Tn.

It is the same anger in Washington D.C. over the Redskins and the same anger over the hapless New Jersey Nets.

Here's the thing we seem to forget: sometimes though, these athletes are not happy either.

Sure, they get to collect their big checks and we're paying big money to see a pathetic product, but they certainly do not want to be mediocre (or worse).  They want to succeed just as much as we want them to. They do not love being the punchline in bar room jokes.

In order to win, they put in hours and hours of work that the ordinary person could never imagine. 

Clausen didn't need a punch to the face to open his eyes to the fact that Notre Dame is struggling and even if that fan relieved himself of anger for that moment in time I assure you it was fleeting.

Sports in America is a funny thing.  When you're winning we build you up to God-like status with Tim Tebow at Florida.  So much so that not voting for him on your All-SEC ballot is equivalent to high treason.

If you're losing, suddenly you are not worthy of shining my shoes at the airport. 

Imagine if we were held to such standards.  If you made a mistake, it would be dissected hour after hour on Sportscenter and millions of Americans revelled in your blunder. 

The athlete in our culture seems stuck between this fine line of superhuman or subhuman.  Very rarely though, is he or she ever just human.

Sure, Clausen's incident is just a small blip on the radar.  An isolated incident from a foolish fan in the heat of the moment.  Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is taking the high road and ignoring the incident all together.

However, this punch speaks to something bigger and something that you will not hear talked about on ESPN or your local sports radio.

Thank your athletes boys and girls this Thanksgiving.  They sacrifice their time, their bodies, and their privacy to go out and entertain us every weekend.  They may drive us insane sometimes, they may not always appreciate the luxuries afforded to them.  However, imagine your life without them.

That would make for some really interesting dining room discussions.


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