After All the Heartache, It’s Still Just a Game
As I sat down to watch the Razorbacks take on Louisiana-Monroe Saturday evening, I was more than excited to see what would hopefully be marked improvement over the previous week. However, as ULM’s quarterback, Kolton Browning, ran into the endzone to score the game winning touchdown, my head was spinning.
Most days I probably would have been angry. There would have been yelling and I would have blamed everybody and their dog. But as the game came to a close Saturday night, I found myself oddly relieved. I was beyond ready for the game to just be over and I was glad our players were finally off the field.
Earlier in the day, I had heard about Tulane safety Devon Walker, who fractured his spine in a head-to-head collision with a teammate. I truly felt for him, his teammates and his family, but it still felt far away. There were chicken wings to be eaten and football to be watched.
Then Tyler Wilson didn’t come out of the locker room after halftime. The official word is that he suffered an “injury above the shoulders.” Obviously, I had no way of knowing if the injury was or was not a concussion, but that seems to be the conclusion that most people jumped to.
For the first time I can remember, my thoughts didn’t immediately turn to worry about the rest of our football season. Instead, I thought of all the recent talk about what head injuries can mean later in life for those who suffer them, and I thought of Wilson and his family. I can’t imagine the panic that must have filled his parents when their son never emerged onto the field during the second half.
Just as I was getting back into the game, Alonzo Highsmith collided with Tevin Mitchel, leaving Mitchel lying on the turf. The cart was driven onto the field almost immediately and Mitchel was immobilized on the stretcher. There was no thumbs up, a sign often given by players to let fans know they are okay, but Mitchel was verbally responsive.
Even though I wasn’t at the game, when Tevin Mitchel went down, I could feel the silence that engulfed War Memorial Stadium. I even felt the need at one point to tell my 4-year-old brother to stop playing because his disturbance of the silence would somehow make things worse.
As if it wasn’t already hard enough to focus on football, soon after Mitchel was taken off the field, another Razorback would follow. Running back Kody Walker was carted off the field with a leg injury.
At this point, I didn’t think the knot in my stomach could get any worse. Then I noticed the booing and the twitter bashing. I don’t care if the offense doesn’t score a single point and the defense gives up 73. Booing your team and talking bad about them on social media sites is unacceptable. Brandon Allen wasn’t throwing incompletions for the fun of it. I’m sure he felt plenty of pressure. He really didn’t need a bunch of fair-weather fans adding to the weight on his shoulders.
As fans, we like to think that wins and losses are all that matter, but that could not be further from the truth. I think sometimes we forget that these are college kids getting beaten up and worn down week after week. If your only concern after the game Saturday was that the Razorbacks have a one in the loss column before Southeastern Conference play even started, then you need a priorities adjustment. Your thoughts and, if you are so inclined, prayers should have been with Wilson, Mitchel, Walker and the rest of the team.
Haley Markle is the assistant sports editor for The Arkansas Traveler. Her column appears every Monday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.