"[At halftime] I really felt we had enough in the tank to beat those guys."
Aloha Stadium - A Disaster Waiting To Happen
I don't write or say things like this lightly and I honestly wish that I didn't have to write about this at all. But on our way back to Honolulu after the game, my family and friends encouraged me to write about our experience while sitting in the visitor's section in hopes of getting this information out there and read by as many people as possible. Hopefully something can be done before someone gets SERIOUSLY hurt.
It was 6pm. We had found a parking spot and were making our way into the stadium. Of course we were all wearing red and were heckled a bit, which is entirely understandable and expected. Our seats were located in the visitor's section in the northwest corner of the north end zone. Like most stadiums, this section is surrounded on all sides by the opposing team's fans. Unlike most stadiums, however, sitting in this section means that you will be constantly verbally and physically assaulted for four quarters. Let me stress that I am no stranger to hostile athletic environments. I've been to games at LSU, USC, UCLA, Oregon etc., but I have NEVER seen visiting fans treated like we were on Saturday night.
It all began when Hawaii cruised to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. Most Hawaii fans surrounding the Fresno State section became less interested in the game and more interested in cussing at us and throwing anything they could get their hands on into our section.
The first big fight took place late in the first quarter. A Hawaii fan with a sign that read "Eat Spam Pound FresNo" (reading E.S.P.N. and actually proclaimed funny by most Dog fans near us) felt the need to spit into the Fresno section while his friend flipped us off and cussed at us. After his sign was pulled down by a Fresno fan who had been spit on, the Hawaii group hurled a full cup of beer into the Fresno section. From what I could see, at least two Hawaii fans also threw punches at a couple of our fans while another group of our fans tried franticly to summon security. It took a full 7 to 8 minutes for the first security officers to get to the section and another 10 minutes to try to figure out what had happened. They ended up escorting out a Fresno fan who was about 65 years old and had been one of the recipients of the Hawaii fan's taunting, spitting, and punching while most of our section screamed at the cops that the man had done NOTHING wrong.
It was at about this time that a large Samoan man, who was sitting with his family about five rows behind us and across the aisle, began cussing at us using every word in the book while holding his little boy in his lap. The boy couldn't have been older than 3 and he's sitting there watching his dad cuss out a poor Fresno woman while her husband sat there helpless. The Samoan's daughter then got out of her seat and went down to the Dog fan and his wife and got right in their face. A Hawaii fan stepped in and grabbed the lady to keep her from hitting the woman and then forced her to sit back down. All of this occurred with no help from security.
The next incident took place in the second quarter. Continuing to show more interest in us than the game, the Hawaii fans began hurling full water bottles into our section. One bottle hit a Fresno fan 5 rows below me and we began covering our heads and had to start watching the section to the southwest of us for incoming debris. Bottles started coming from the upper decks and as mentioned on the BarkBoard, one almost hit Marlon Moore's family. The University of Hawaii and the WAC is very lucky no one was seriously injured or killed by the flying bottles.
In addition to the water bottles, literally every few minutes we would be pelted with trash consisting of torn up pages from news papers that were handed out before the game. Although not nearly as dangerous as throwing full water bottles, all of this debris rained down on not only our section but the entire north half of the playing field, turning it into a dirty trash heap. Where was security? Nowhere to be seen. Does Hawaii get penalized for trashing the playing field after being constantly told not to throw things? Nope. In fact, the half-time entertainment consisted of a competition in which contestants threw paper airplanes at a target on the field. If indeed Hawaii doesn't want their field trashed, why do they condone it with games?
By now it was half time and we decided to get some food. A friend of mine went to the restroom and was berated by female Hawaii fans. Upon walking back to our seats, a Hawaii fan who was in line for beer yelled, "Hey David Carr was at Fresno State…. he's a fucking piece of shit. The Bulldogs can suck my cock." Aren't the Hawaii fans classy?
The third quarter began and things escalated. Not content with chucking things at us, the next incident took place when for some reason a large amount of Hawaii fans decided it would be a good idea to leave their seats and come sit in the empty seats in our section; apparently, in order to make the taunting and harassment a bit more personal. One Hawaii fan (as mentioned on the BarkBoard) tried to sit in an elderly woman's seat. As the elderly Dog fan's husband protested, the Hawaii fan cussed and challenged the man to fight. The poor lady ended up injuring her leg trying to not get attacked.
As I was watching this, a Hawaii fan came and sat next to a friend of mine. I wasn't too worried as my friend played college football and had about 4 inches and 60 pounds on the guy. As we were looking back to see the replay board in order to watch the replay of Colt getting knocked out, the large Samoan man who had been cussing at us the entire game with his son on his lap got out of his seat. He walked down about 4 rows, pushed a female Fresno fan out of the way, and bitch slapped her dad in the face. The Samoan then proceeded to try to jump on him. At this point, all hell broke loose and Hawaii fans descended from the upper rows, most trying to get a fight going by swinging at Fresno fans in the immediate vicinity. Folks started to yell franticly for the cops who were on the field about 20 rows below us. The incompetent police officers spent the next 5 minutes trying to figure out how to get into our section and ended up scaling a wall. All the while, Hawaii fans were throwing punches. As the cops arrived, the Hawaii fan who was sitting next to my friend was on his feet trying to get the Samoan guy away from the Fresno fan and his wife and in the process got shoved by two other men. He spat in one of their faces and the cops let the Samoan man stay and kicked out the guy who was trying to help. Forget about the fact that the Samoan man assaulted two of our fans and nearly started a riot!!
This is just a portion of the incidents that took place on Saturday night. Indeed many more altercations took place but since I did not directly see the events that led to them I will not write about them here.
I refuse to believe that this was a one time occurance and the police should have been in our section from the start and should have stayed until the end. Those responsible should have been quickly apprehended and arrested. Unless the University of Hawaii is interested in dealing with future lawsuits and possible deaths action needs to be taken imediately. The incompetence of the police force along with the insane and dangerous behavior of Hawaii's fans is cause for grave concern. I have notified the presidents of both schools; Fresno State AD Thomas Boeh; the WAC commissioner; and Hawaii's Athletic Director, Herman Frazier about these events. This is a serious situation that needs to be remedied before someone gets seriously hurt. I was aware that Hawaii fans were known for getting a bit out of hand, but what we experienced far exceeded what should be legally allowed to occur in a public venue, let alone at a university sanctioned event.
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