Okay, this one is a little off-topic for this site. But I feel compelled to share my response to the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn, who posted an apology to Saints fans for their mistreatment in Chicago for the recent NFC championship game.
For those of you who don't know, many Saints fans who made the trip to Chicago were met with jeers
like "We'll finish what Katrina started" and "you should have died in the flood." They were also openly threatened. As a result, many left the game early out of concern for their personal safety.
Zorn's blog post, which can be read here
, included a photo of Bears fans holding up a sign that reads, "We'll finish what Katrina started." It's one of the most repugnant things I've ever seen.
But it doesn't stop there. A person named "Christiana" posted the following comment to the blog:
"...it was equally idiotic and tasteless for the media to go on and on about how an ultimately inconsequential football game was somehow going to magically transform New Orleans.
(If the Super Bowl were being held there, it would be a totally different story. But it's not, so it isn't.)
And as a side note: I went online to read the Times-Picayune on Monday. Can someone please explain to me how people who are still living in FEMA trailers are able to afford Saints season tickets?"
The ignorance is amazing.
For what it's worth, here is my response to Zorn's post and the comment:
I really appreciated your recent blog post, "The silence of the fans", acknowledging that many Chicago fans were an absolute embarrassment to their city and their team in hosting the recent NFC championship game between the Bears and Saints. On the largest Saints message board, numerous posts were submitted telling one horror story after another. Michael Bayham's story unfortunately was not unique in the least. Perhaps that's the real reason why the team decided to only sell available tickets to people with Illinois or northwest Indiana zip codes - to save residents of Louisiana who made the trip north from Katrina taunts, wish-you-died-in-the-flood threats, and so on.
I want to counter some comments to your blog post that ask about how Saints fans can afford season tickets when they have FEMA trailers, which to me is an incredibly insensitive question, particularly when the poster obviously has absolutely no idea what it's like to deal with such a monumental tragedy.
Many of us, not only in the New Orleans and south Mississippi area but also in the southwest Louisiana area (devastated by forgotten Rita), are resilient and have been rebuilding homes and communities, as well as trying to return to a sense of normalcy. A part of that necessarily includes the Saints.
The Saints have become a part of our heritage. Here, families gather on Sunday afternoons to watch the Saints, be it in the Superdome or around a living room television, and for many this has become a tradition passed down from one generation to the next. Maybe they lost most of the time, but this was, and is, our team.
New Orleans (and Louisiana) has a deep-rooted passion for the Saints, not unlike the passion Boston has for the Red Sox, or your own Chicago has for the Cubs. For us, a fall Sunday without Saints football just wouldn’t seem right.
I will concede that in some reports, some Saints season tickets were purchased with FEMA money, but those were very few instances. The remainder who purchased the vast majority of tickets with their hard-earned dollars deserve far better than to be classified as irresponsible spenders. A lot of these people have experienced working all day at a job, then working in the evenings and weekends on repairing their homes, and deserve the respite of a black-and-gold Superdome on eight glorious Sundays in the fall. How dare they be judged by someone who has never dealt with something like this.
Over the course of the last several months, the passion that Louisiana has for its beloved Saints has overflowed. There is a pride that this state has that many who don't live here just don't understand. And, whether they win or lose, the Saints are Louisiana's team, and that feeling has never been stronger, especially after dealing with Katrina’s and Rita’s aftermath, then after almost losing the team because of Katrina, and then after having to fend off a vulturistic San Antonio to keep it in New Orleans.
The above reasons are why the Saints sold out of season tickets for the first time in team history - not because a bunch of trailer-bound morons wasted government money on football tickets and are still looking for another handout to cover the cost.
The magical season that rewarded Saints fans and provided a wonderful diversion - the season that gave us a renewed sense of belief and pride and faith in ourselves - was an added bonus. That’s why Saints fans in the thousands went to Chicago - to bask in the glory of uncharted territory, and to support the team’s continued improbable run. That it ended a game too soon was disappointing. That many Saints fans had to endure what they endured (“We’ll finish what Katrina started”) from Chicago fans was far, far worse.
I leave you with two thoughts:
1. Did Giants or Jets fans have to deal with “We’ll finish what 9/11 started” signs in road games after that tragedy? What would the response have been?
2. Had Chicago suffered a great tragedy on a similar scale to New Orleans, and another city (see: San Antonio) actively worked to steal the Cubs or Bears from it, would people still find a way to buy tickets to help show support for keeping the Cubs or Bears and to maintain a bit of normalcy? What would Chicago do?
They’d find a way.
Just like Saints fans have.
I really do wish people around the country would have a better sense of what is really going on down here, in terms of the problems we face, the struggles we have endured, and the mountains we still must climb.
Having to fight repugnant ignorance in another corner of the country, over a football game, shouldn't be one of those mountains.
Thank you for recognizing that.
------Got a comment? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.