OldArchive / Sports

End Zone Seat: Pit Brawls Symptomatic of Society's Woes

It has been said that sports builds character.

I'm not so sure about that.

I've always been of the opinion that sports reveals character.

Based upon press reports and the always entertaining gossip mill that is RaceNY.com, character certainly was revealed last Friday night at the Chemung Speedrome.

Three separate fights broke out at the track, creating such a bad taste in the mouths of owner Bob Stapleton and his partner Chad Silver that they have announced plans to sell the track, according to a report in Tuesday's Elmira Star-Gazette.

The moon wasn't full and you certainly can't blame the usual testiness associated with hot, humid summer weather.

Apparently, most of the anger stemmed from accidents on the track.

Racing is an expensive sport and it's understandable that watching a car getting wrecked will raise hackles in the pits. It's not just the money, after all, it's also the large amount of time needed to repair a badly damaged car.

That's still no excuse for fisticuffs.

The first two incidents at Chemung were between the same two teams. Worse, during the second flare-up, two women were allowed to cross the track from the stands to join the scrap.

In an ideal world, the two teams would have been issued a one-week suspension as soon as the first fight was broken up and escorted immediately off the track's grounds.

Certainly, no one from the stands should be allowed to get involved in a pit brawl. There are a few too many potentially deadly weapons in the pits, including the cars themselves, to add irate fans to the mix.

It probably wasn't a good idea to allow a driver, who had his second major wreck of the season, to cross the track into the stands where he could throw haymakers at Stapleton.

That driver has been suspended for life from the track, but that may be a moot point since his driving career will probably be considerably longer than Chemung will be in existence.

Clearly, Chemung had some security shortcomings.

This last incident may have been the final blow to the struggling track. Silver was brought on board this year to help Stapleton avoid a foreclosure on a huge debt incurred in building the track.

By allowing hooliganism to break out in the pits, the track sent a signal, even though it was unintentional, that Chemung is not a family-friendly facility.

We are surrounded with uncivility everywhere.

It doesn't matter if it is sports, entertainment or politics, segments of this society have become so fractious that there is little wonder we all have short tempers and little understanding for others.

That is not the sort of message that good parents want to pass on to their children.

The vast majority of the people in the stands and the pits wouldn't and didn't allow their tempers to get the better of them last Friday.

A great Midwestern philosopher once said, "There's always that three percent" that causes trouble.

Well, that three percent of the people in the pits who couldn't behave responsibly may have signed the death warrant for a Southern Tier landmark.

It's not the possible loss of an area racetrack that is sad about this. There are other tracks.

The sad part is that someone's child had to watch "adults" resort to violence to resolve a situation as unimportant as a car race.

While real heroes are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, we shouldn't be fighting amongst ourselves over such trivial things.

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