Setting goals
By Bob Halloran
Special to Page 2

I'm so happy I could light something on fire.

The Ohio State University
Ohio license plate 856-GLK, your lights are on -- oh, and you're car has been trashed.
It's not exactly "A Pyromaniac's Love Story," but the apparent mentality of some sports fans, the same fans who become so overjoyed that they feel compelled to tear down goalposts, or better yet -- tip over cars. I must have a black hole in my heart, because I've fallen in love a few times, and I've witnessed the births of my three children, yet I've never had the longing to pile up nine cars and start them ablaze like they did near Ohio Stadium over the weekend.

Boy, if they could only bottle that kind of happiness! I'll be remarried soon.

Perhaps that will be the day my heart fills with the kind of overwhelming joy that leads to malfeasance and the dangerous disregard for safety and property. "Yes, I do take this woman. Now let's toss a mattress off a balcony and light it on fire! YEEEEE-HAAAAAW!"

The tearing down of goalposts phenomena has dropped down a notch or two from totally ridiculous to downright stupid. This past weekend alone, fans tore down the goalposts at Clemson, S.C, Raleigh, N.C., and Berkeley, Calif. They tried at other places, such as Ohio Stadium, but it's not as easy as it looks. A couple of guys hugged the uprights, and got them rocking, but instead of bringing them down, they only managed to look like they were humping a large tuning fork. Unsatisfied, they finally climbed down to be abused by security. Oh, the humiliation! If only they had gone to class and studied harder in "Goalpost 101." It's right there in the first chapter of the text. The five steps for rapid and effective goalpost destruction are:

The Ohio State University
Look out! Here comes the fat kid!
1. Work as a team. Even though you're in the midst of an unruly mob, a generally understood purpose binds you all. Keep your head about you while others are losing theirs, or while they're being pepper sprayed.

2. Select a captain -- often self-appointed by the loudest and most obnoxious of the bunch.

3. Get the fat guys up there. It won't be pleasant, because they're such poor climbers, but the same thing that makes that little old ant think he can climb that rubber tree plant will get three or four big bellied guys up on the crossbar. High hopes, baby! High hopes!

4. Raise the steroid freak so he can hang on the end. You need someone who can hold on for a while. If he falls, he's a wussy. And he knows it. He'll never let that happen.

5. Fat guys jump in unison. You can easily get a thousand pounds of pressure landing simultaneously on the crossbar. Once that thing starts rocking, it's only a matter of time. It may help to sing, "We will, we will ... rock you!" But some groups have had success with "Bless-a my soul in the bosom of Abraham."

The Ohio State University
If Maurice Clarett goes to the NFL, it's not for money -- it's for his safety.
Nobody knows why.

That's how it can be done, but the truth is, it shouldn't be done. The number of injuries and the potential for far worse makes me think they should go to great lengths to stop fans from running onto the field, and from tearing down the goalposts. I offer these suggestions.

1. Grease the pole. Already sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Actually, they tried this at Ohio Stadium, and while the fans were unable to get the posts down, it had nothing to do with the grease. Several guys were still able to climb up. My guess is, they became aware of the plan, so they sprayed themselves with a de-greaser -- something like EZ-Off oven spray. It's not going to be easy to outthink the criminal mind.

2. Mass hypnotism. Put a giant swinging watch on the Jumbotron and get the public address announcer to hypnotize the crowd. They'd not only leave the goalposts alone, you could probably get 80,000 people to dance naked and cluck like chickens.

The Ohio State University
Follow me! Follow me to freedom!
3. Stop only the fat guys from running on to the field. The authorities have to know what their enemy is thinking, and then game-plan against it. Yes, to stop only fat guys is a form of profiling, but sometimes the ends justify the means.

4. Hydraulic lifts. These can be used in one of two ways. First, to raise a protective barrier around the goalposts. I'm thinking something like really clean glass, so we could watch the drunkest fans keep running into it like stunned birds. Also, hydraulics could be used to drop the posts into the ground. They come up. They go down. Easy. In fact, they could leave them in the ground, and only bring them up for field goals and extra points. I actually like this one, but my favorite so far has gotta be the "clean glass barrier."

5. Make an announcement. Yeah, that ought to do it. Get the P.A. to request that nobody runs on the field. I'm sure the fans would listen to reason.

6. Give out tickets to 50 lucky fans. Selected at random, they get to go down and try to tear down the goalposts. The rest of the crowd can stick around to shout advice or mock them, but only those 50 get to try. Instead of spraying pepper, security could erect safety nets. Hire an M.C. and make a game out of it.

7. Let Scott Norwood be the guy responsible for tearing down the goalposts. Chances are he'd miss it wide right, and we could all go home. (Geesh, that's mean. Sorry about that, Scott.)

The Ohio State University
Gives a new meaning to, "Would you like pepper with that?"
8. Create social outcasts. Here's the way I see it. Fans rush the field so they can feel a part of the victory, but when they get there, it turns out just like the rest of their lives. The cool guys don't want anything to do with them. The players rush to the locker room, leaving the fans feeling awkward and alone with nothing to do. So, they try to think of something cool to do. Clearly, the goalposts must come down. But if they've just rushed the field after a victory over Rutgers or Duke, people should let them know what losers they are. Make those misfits feel even worse by booing them, or by not giving them the attention they so desperately crave.

9. Contest! Take it national. "The Great Goalpost Competition." Kids from colleges all over the country practice taking goalposts down. They attempt to qualify in regional competitions, and only the best of the best make it to the national finals. Contestants are judged on speed and originality. How fast did the posts come down? And by what means? This could be bigger than "The Ring."

10. Can you say piñata? Give the fans something else to destroy. Cart a 50-foot piñata out to midfield. Every ticket holder gets to take a whack at it. Ultimately, candy and flowers come out. It's a lovefest, not a riot.

Otherwise, I think stadiums should just make goalposts that are real easy to take down. That would take all the fun out of it. Those Styrofoam nurdles that the kids play with in the swimming pools would be perfect. You walk over and push it down. Game over. Everybody goes home -- to light something on fire.

Bob Halloran is an anchorman for ESPNEWS.



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