In Crazy Sports World, Taser Fine by Me
When a suspected terrorist tries to set off a car bomb in Times Square, evacuating much of midtown Manhattan in a scene out of a fright movie, then it seems any sicko act is possible in any public area. It's the end of the world as we know it in 2010, and other than one old rock star, nobody feels fine. Which is why I have no problem with a cop using a Taser gun to subdue a goof who runs onto a field at a ballpark, even if the dude resembles a teenaged Ray Romano in his red T-shirt, khaki shorts and black baseball cap.
He may look harmless. He may not be drunk or stoned. He may even call his proud father from the seats and ask his permission to attempt the stunt, surely thrilling a Penn State administration that accepted him in its next freshman class. But really, who knows if he has a knife or a gun as he's spinning around the outfield and waving a white towel in Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park?
In an increasingly creepy world, it would be foolish to cut slack for any warped behavior at a sports event. Security experts fear that the next cataclysmic terrorist act in America will be in a stadium or an arena, making the stun-gun quelling of 17-year-old Steve Consalvi a landmark event in sports security. Much as we'd like to think the games of our lives still can be escapes from reality, it isn't hard to envision a major tragedy in the near future. We're still waiting for leagues to mandate that sophisticated X-ray machines be installed at all entrances, and until they do, it will be fairly easy to sneak a weapon through the gates.
So with athletes and paying customers to protect, what is a police force to do when someone ignores frequent warnings over the public-address system and scoreboard -- "Anyone trespassing on the field will be ejected and prosecuted" -- and invades the playing surface anyway? In Philly, hotbed of lunatic sports fans, they aren't taking chances anymore. When Consalvi tried to sprint away from a police officer and security personnel, the cop drew his Taser and fired several shots before hitting him. Consalvi stiffened on impact, then dove onto the turf, where he was apprehended and taken away. This was a different approach to the usual procedures in stadiums, where unruly fans either are chased down and tagged with vicious body shots or waited out until they run out of juice and drop.
The problem with those methods is that fans never learn. Maybe they will now that the Taser shooting of Consalvi has been shown non-stop the last 24 hours on television. But don't hold your breath.