Last Night's Pitch Invasion at the Cotton Bowl Was an Embarrassment to Dallas
Pictured: Idiot with $30m asset. Also pictured: indifferent policing.
We've written elsewhere about what transpired at the Cotton Bowl last night. In short, at some point during a pre-season exhibition game that was charging $50 a head and up, one fan decided to charge the pitch.
This happens a lot in sporting events around the world. People run onto the pitch. They are pursued by authorities and caught, then hauled from the field to what I assume is a jail cell much like the one Homer Simpson ends up in in the episode where he goes to the Super Bowl.
Only this time no one bothered pursuing the pitch invader. When the aforementioned invader realized not a single piece of the stadium's security apparatus was stopping him from doing exactly what he wanted, confusion set in. This isn't how the game is played. I charge the field, you catch me, possibly after a lengthy, Benny Hill-style pursuit.
Instead, the invader wandered around the pitch at will, in a state of semi-confusion. The authorities presumably thought he'd get bored and leave the pitch eventually. What they didn't expect is that this lone vigilante would have ably demonstrated to similar miscreants in the crowd of 50,000 or so that they too could charge onto the field and meet their heroes with absolutely no intervention on the part of the authorities. And charge they did, with the game halted for a further five minutes while a good 30 or 40 idiots took to the field.
In short, the whole thing was a desperate embarrassment for the city. I know, everyone loves a good pitch invasion, especially in an exhibition game this monotonous, and no one likes a killjoy like me, but it's no exaggeration to say that some of the most expensive athletes in world sport were on that field last night, and that simple fact deserves basic security, not the Keystone Cops-style pursuit that we were treated to. It shows the city of Dallas in a terrible light for two reasons.
First, that we have people stupid enough to think that running onto a field to take a selfie with a player lying on the floor is at all acceptable. Fifty thousand people aren't here to watch you delay the event they paid a minimum of $50 to attend so you can act the idiot. Just because you can get away with something doesn't mean you're not an asshole for doing so.
Second, and more important because it's the reason we won't get any more events like this, you simply can't allow crowd members to run all over the field at will. I've never seen a mass pitch invasion like last night's. Usually they're for a reason like happiness, or fury. You know. Emotions. That's because people realize they can't get away with it but dammit they're so overjoyed/underjoyed they're going to do it anyway.
Not last night. Last night the security at the game was so hopeless that they brought the invasion on themselves, endangering the athletes in the process. Not only were they lazy, they were a little brutal, finally catching up to one guy who was just standing there, and tackling him from behind by the neck. The whole thing had a very amateur, not-at-all-bothered air to it that smacked of arrogance on the part of the authorities. As one security guard was quoted as saying "The boss came out after the game and was like, 'You let all those kids come down?'" He laughed. "I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm 54, they're 18. What do you expect?'" We expect someone who might make a competent security guard, buddy.
There were already plans next year for the city of Dallas to get Manchester United as part of this series. If Manchester United were watching last night, they're probably wondering as to the potential safety of their players, should they play a game inside the Cotton Bowl. If they decide that, actually, it probably wouldn't be great if Robin Van Persie or Wayne Rooney or other multi-million dollar investments got assaulted by a fan, I wouldn't think they'd want to come to Dallas. And if they don't, Dallas only has itself to blame.