One stadium’s misfortune could be another stadium’s opportunity.
With less than five months until the Trojans take the field against Minnesota on Sept. 3 for their 2011 home opener, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum commission and USC have a chance to create their own silver lining in the aftermath of the altercation outside of Dodger Stadium earlier this month that left 42-year-old Bryan Stow in a coma.
The commission can’t prevent a fight from happening in the stands, the parking lot or any other venue, but it can help change the culture.
Although the Coliseum hasn’t recently made news for the criminal behavior of its patrons, college football stadiums, especially here in our own backyard, are not immune to these unnecessary situations.
As recently as last season, when USC and UCLA met in Pasadena on Dec. 5 for their annual rivalry game, the evening took on a darker tone when, hours before the game began, officers were called to a tailgating area on Lot 1 of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where 50 to 75 fans were engaged in an melee that sent two men to the hospital with stab wounds. It was so bad, one of the instigators was jailed on suspicion of attempted murder.
I understand an incident such as this or the one that took place two weeks ago at Dodger Stadium don’t have a direct connection to the Coliseum. Nonetheless, if ever there were a time to re-evaluate security plans for the coming season, this is it.
Currently, when most people think of football and its long-standing history in Southern California, the first images they conjure up are likely of the Coliseum.
It’s an athletic cathedral synonymous with the majestic pageantry of the Olympic Games, nail-biting World Series contests, Super Bowl classics and some of the most historic college football games ever played.
But with that sense of tradition comes a sense of responsibility, especially in light of these recent events.
Maybe that means putting more patrols around the parking lots surrounding the stadium, or having LAPD officers greet fans when they pass through the turnstiles, or even preventing alcohol consumption at tailgating areas which take place on Coliseum property.
There is no easy answer.
Fan altercations are not a problem you can directly blame on rivalries, lack of security or even excess amounts of alcohol.
But what we do know is the problem does exist, and although I might sound like the fun police trying to promote ideas that could take away from the carefree environment generally associated with tailgating and sporting events, drastic times call for drastic measures.
Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt can dismiss the Opening Day incident as an isolated matter all he wants, but in reality, it’s not.
In April 2009, there was a similar episode between Dodgers and Giants fans, when an unidentified man was stabbed multiple times in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
There are a lot of Angelenos disgusted by the recent actions of their fellow fans, and the issue can’t simply be dismissed.
Now is not the time for the Coliseum and this university to stand pat on what has worked for them in recent years.
Though increased security measures could come off as over the top to students and the local community, I say, so be it. Remaining complacent now could cost a life later.
As the saying goes: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Let’s just hope the Coliseum gets the message, before the shame and the blame are on their hands next.
“For The Love Of The Game” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.