Sports began in
Greece – track, wrestling, boxing, jumping, soccer – and if fan
violence surrounding it continues, it may end there.
All sports in Greece have been curtailed for two
weeks. Here’s a quote from government spokesman, Theodoros
Roussopulos: “Violence in sports is something that effects…”
(Editor’s Note: We told Mr. Silliman there
was not room to both print the entire quote and… the name of the
The cancellation was a result of a brawl between
fans of rival women’s volleyball fans. The battle involving 300 fans
using clubs, knives, stones, and pick-axes took place near Athens
between fans of Olympiakos Piraeus and Panathinaikos when one group of
fans said Olympia Beer was less filling. The other group, of course,
thought it had better taste.
(Editor’s Note: We told Mr. Silliman we
thought that joke was, frankly, kind of tasteless.)
In case you might think violence in Greek sports is
a new phenomenon, let us remind of earlier events and of the fact there
are harsh hooligan laws already on the books. In March, 2002, a soccer
referee was badly beaten by fans. Following that incident the home team
involved, Panathinaikos Athens, was ordered to play their next four
home games without fans. Nobody was allowed to watch the games.
The same penalty was imposed, playing in an empty stadium for three
games, to Olympiakos Piraeus in 2005. In 2001 a soccer referee had to
be escorted from the stadium by riot police after fans threw bottles
and stadium chairs. After leaving the stadium the referee turned around
to find both Greek masks reflected tragedy.
(Editor’s Note: We allowed this joke based
Why are Greek fans so passionate and so violent? And
since the entire concept of sport began in ancient Greece does this
mindless violence – excessive rioting over a women’s volleyball
game?—signal a society revolving around sport may be disintegrating?
Can the pursuit of excellence, another Greek concept, and the culture
of winning above all else, still another Greek concept co-exist in
today’s media conscious and high paced world? Greeks love their sports.
We know this because we asked one, Milos Xenophanes, who said Greeks
love their sports but also love beauty, another Greek concept, and that
Greeks prefer their sportsmen naked… or nude, yet another Greek
concept. Milos says the violence, the rioting is primarily because
modern sport conflicts with their love of beauty, especially in women’s
volleyball, and that if the sportspersons were in the nude, the
violence would subside.
We feel that this idea, of course, will not work.
Especially with the threat of hooliganism, athletes have even more to
fear competing naked. For instance, hooliganism even broke out during a
Greek water polo match. Now, if any sport screamed out for naked
participants, water polo might be it. You can be naked and still
under-the-water modest but if fans are throwing sharp objects and
molotovs into the pool, you’re going to want to play cross-legged.
(Editor’s Note: We asked Mike, the
cartoonist, NOT to draw this picture.)
Just so you know the two week moratorium is not as
drastic as you might think. One of the two weeks is Easter week where
no games were scheduled anyway. We have to ask why shouldn’t fans be
subjected to frisks, x-rays and searches? If they’re going to come down
hard on teams for the actions of their fans, why not weed out the bad
apples among the fans?
(Editor’s Note: We told Mr. Silliman you
wouldn’t like it if he finished on a serious note)