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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Make Hay, Not War
Crazy sports fans and media hype. Gotta love it!

A Chicago White Sox fan jumps onto the field and tackles an umpire.

A NASCAR fan floods FOX with e-mail after the broadcaster fails to show a race.

Phillies pitcher Kevin Millwood and slugger Jim Thome, prized and highly paid off-season acquisitions, get loudly booed from the stands for the first time in Philadelphia for poor performances.

All in the same week.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

Not much. Just another typical week in sports.

Since the days of the gladiator in the arena, sports have been a surrogate for war and an exorcism of mankind's aggressive nature. It's a way for the average Joe to throw off the yolk of his own mediocrity and put himself in the athlete's shoes, if only for a moment.

A six-pack can help that transformation. It also has the tendency to decrease the drinker's inhibitions. So, schlubs who normally would just chant and cheer, tend to go a little nuts.

Even the word "fan" is just a modern abbreviation for the word "fanatic," according to the dictionary. And after 9/11, we all know how dangerous fanatics can be when given improper motivation.

The only difference between Ancient Rome and now, is that we have many 24-hour sports channels to replay our stupidity to a global audience.

It was just beginning back in 1985, when I was a freshman at Temple University and a member of what became known in the Philly-area media as "the Haymakers."

We weren't exactly a terrorist cell. Just a motley crew of lower classmen from a single-sex football dorm floor.  After a typically dismal college football season - Temple went 4-7 that year, a bunch of us decided to see Temple's up-and-coming basketball team play a home game.

The stands weren't exactly full when Temple played George Washington early in the season and the crowd seemed a lot less than enthusiastic, despite the very physical game.

Suddenly, GW's Moti Daniel, a 6'6" forward/guard, let an elbow fly under the boards and into the face of Temple's  6'10" center Ramon Rivas. No foul was called.

This picture of the "Haymakers" in action was published in the Feb. 17, 1986 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer above the headline "Return of the old school spirit."

An angry Rivas, a native of Puerto Rico who knew little English and even less about how to dribble a basketball, sought revenge. He charged up the floor as if to go on defense and then stuck out his arm as he approached the back of Daniel's head.

The reverse clothesline literally flipped Daniel in the air and sprawled him out on the floor. Amid the stunned silence of McGonigle Hall, my friends and I stood and cheered. Later that night, as we watched the recap on the channel 10 news, sportscaster Al Meltzer said, "Can you believe these fans? They're applauding a haymaker!"

From that moment on, we were hooked.

We went to every game that year dressed in Temple's colors - cherry and white, carried signs and cheered wildly. We adopted Rivas as our personal mascot, calling him "The Ramonirator." My own meager contribution was the group's slogan, "Make Hay, Not War." Somehow it stuck.

Our goal was simple - garner as much TV news time and newspaper coverage as possible. Joe Shields, our floor's resident assistant, the senior who was supposed to keep us in check and out of trouble, egged us on instead. He took up collections for the pre- and post-game parties and even coined the phrase, "Media hype, gotta love it!"

Every time we saw a film clip of ourselves in the news or a mention in the newspaper, we laughed uproariously. Somehow it felt like we had become part of the spectacle.

To that end, Joe once decided to mockingly dress up as Temple basketball's then-official mascot, The McGonigle Haller - kind of a lame Philadelphia Phantom look-alike with a codpiece - and proceeded to chase the real guy around an upper deck surrounding the court.

The madness seemed to coalesce near the end of the season during a nationally televised away game. A guy named Dave from my floor was singled out in the stands for an interview while wearing a basketball on his head. Unable to hear the reporter's question, Dave just looked at the camera for a moment and then screamed into the microphone, "HAAAAAYYYMAKERRRRS! Woooooooooooo..."

The TV immediately cut back to the announcers, who had taken their headsets off and were still shaking Dave's call from their ears. "Now, there's a waste of a college education," one said.

This one's for you, guys!

How wrong he was.

I have no idea where that Dave is today, but I still remain friends with most of the members from my freshman year floor. So to Joe, Steve, Lou, George, Thom, Todd, Max, Abbey and all the rest, this one's for you. Media hype, gotta love it - even 18 years later.


  • Fan attack highlights 'anniversary'
    Apparently nuts celebrate anniversaries, too.
    (Published: 04/16/2003)

  • Lieberthal a true Philly fan
    CLEARWATER, Fla. - If Philadelphia sports fans had a Hall of Fame of their own, laid-back Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal would deserve an honorary induction.
    (Published: 02/17/2003)

  • Edgewater Park fan fined for illegal bench warming
    For five minutes, Edgewater Park resident Daniel Flagg got to experience the NFL playoffs in a way that most Eagles fans can only imagine.
    (Published: 01/14/2003)

  • Fan favorites at the Vet
    Local Eagles fans relive their most memorable moments of the past three decades.
    (Published: 12/15/2002)

  • In this family, she's the fan
    Eileen Zolotorofe has Eagles fever; her husband doesn't get what all the fuss is about.
    (Published: 01/14/2003)

  • Seeing green
    James Lee thinks his wife may have gone a little too far.
    (Published: 01/10/2003)

  • To read more stories about sports fans, click here.

Dave Ralis is a recovering Temple basketball fan and is currently hyperventilating over the Flyers in the playoffs. His Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at . To read his previous columns, click here.

April 21, 2003