The day that sports changed forever

When I first saw that Nick Taylor (no, not the one from Duran Duran) had sunk a 72-foot-putt on the fourth sudden-death hole to capture the Canadian Open, I didn’t think of how miraculous a sports feat this was. 

I thought of Monica Seles.

The reason I thought of Monica Seles is because Taylor’s countryman, a professional golfer by the name of Adam Hadwin, ran onto the green spraying a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion.  After all Taylor had just become the first Canadian to win the country’s Open in seventy years.  Hadwin was subsequently, if not immediately, tackled by a security guard, whose first instincts told him somebody was up to no good.  So much for celebration.

For those of you too young to remember Monica Seles, she was the number one tennis player in the world for quite a while.  Once the 15-year Chris Evert-Martina Navratilova rivalry subsided, a new rivalry emerged in women’s tennis, that between Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.  From 1987-1996, Graf and Seles kept a stranglehold on the top spot in women’s tennis, with one very bizarre and traumatic incident ending it all and instantly casting a shadow not only over tennis but on all professional sports.

In 1993, in Hamburg, Germany, Seles was stabbed by a crazed fan, of Graf’s.  The man ran from the stands, onto the court and stabbed Seles in the back with a boning knife that he had snuck into the stadium.  Seles was hospitalized and out of the sport for two years.

While this tale has a happy ending, with Seles ultimately regaining the confidence and strength to capture the 1996 Australian Open, she was never the same.  And how could she be?

Ever since that moment, sports have not been the same either, an innocence unfortunately lost at Seles’ expense.

Look at this video, about four minutes in, immediately after the 1984 Boston Celtics won an NBA title.

Crazed fans stormed the floor of the old Boston Garden as the clock ticked to zero.  This could never happen today.  Not a chance.

Or how about this historic moment, in 1974, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record and fans ran onto the field to congratulate him. 

Again, in 2023, the only place this could never happen would be in college football stadiums on a random upset and don’t be surprised to see that change in the future as well.  Mix in the Seles stabbing of 1993 with the Malice at the Palace in 1994 and you have a clear line of demarcation that fans are no longer allowed to cross, for the safety of both them and the athletes they pay top dollar to see.

Professional sports venues have changed how they police these events, knowing full well that fans attending these festivities are at best liquored up, at worst potentially dangerous and quite often an irrational, unpredictable combination of the two.

It’s why we teach our kids to be careful on the road because we never know who’s driving in the car alongside them, what’s going through their minds and what their intentions might be.

The video of Hadwin being tackled went viral as all entertaining videos do.  We immediately became privy to all angles of him being sent to the turf by a security guard who many probably think overreacted and many others think was just doing his job.

This story has a happy ending with no harm, no fouls, no injuries, and no security guards fired, yet we remain at a point in our history where we cannot be trusted to not put each other in harm’s way.  Hadwin found that out the hard way. 

So did Monica Seles.

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5 Replies to “The day that sports changed forever”

  1. I was Hammering Hanks 700thvand 715th! Still remember his reaction when those two guys ran out to congratulate him. It’s sad fans can’t just savor the moment in the stands! I remember the Lakers/Celtics game like it was yesterday. Hard to believe it’s been almost 40 years!

  2. Dan Dan…

    Thanks for chiming in. Good to hear from ya’.

    Yeah, I’m not sure where we draw that line but it probably has to be drawn somwhere. I’m also not sure how you stop 100,000 whiskey-drinking Vols fans from storming the field after they beat the Tide. I guess at that point security just shrugs and hopes for the best.

    I’m not sure I ever feel the urge to storm the field… but… when the Gators were in town, BCole’s youngest got onto the court to snap a selfie with Florida’s Kowacie Reeves that he still talks about to this day.

    Social media has increased our interaction with the athletes but there probably needs to be a healthy middle ground, one that is ruined when it is once again proven that we, as a collective, don’t know how to act.

    Too bad we all need babysitters.

  3. You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners – like ourselves, and they see only their own shadows, or rhe shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave.
    Sorry, I’m reading Plato’s Republic and I got a little carried away.

  4. I don’t understand people anymore. Fans rioting at the Nuggets championship parade?
    Say it ain’t so Rev.

  5. I’ll be honest, Deac.

    I first thought you were quoting from Orwell’s “1984.” I suppose I wasn’t far off. Either way, it’s a good day on the Chump when someone drops off a literary reference. This site could certainly use it.

    And fifty years for Nuggets fans? I suppose a little rioting is warranted. Who knew the half-stoned fan base could get so inspired. Clearly, they already had the torches.

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