One week after hitting a disgraceful low, Michigan State plays on at Illinois

The sports world remains outraged at the Spartans for their violent acts in the stadium tunnel at Michigan. My question: Why is anyone even surprised?

SHARE One week after hitting a disgraceful low, Michigan State plays on at Illinois
Michigan State v Illinois

Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne runs the ball at Illinois in Week 10.

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

CHAMPAIGN — Michigan State played without eight suspended players in its 23-15 victory Saturday against Illinois at Memorial Stadium. Suspended why? For beating the hell out of a couple of Michigan players last weekend in the tunnel of the Big House in Ann Arbor after the Spartans were blown out by the Wolverines. Legal action is pending.

The sports world remains outraged.

My question: Why is anyone even surprised?

Hating the ‘‘other’’ is the American way in 2022. Opposition is expressed in vitriol and violence.

We see it in sports. Alabama’s Jermaine Burton struck a female Tennessee fan during a field-storming a few weeks back. Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard swung on Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft last season. A Michigan fan reached from the stands to palm Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker’s bald head as he headed into the tunnel last Saturday.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano had to be separated on the field during a game in October. Months earlier, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher tore into each other publicly — crossing every imaginary rhetorical line — in what became the story of the offseason in college football, but that wasn’t even in the same ballpark as how political adversaries in the United States speak about one another at all hours of every day.

Youth-sports referees are experiencing so much abuse, they’re quitting by the thousands. Youth-sports parents — idiots, many of them — are brawling at games when they aren’t busy screaming (or worse) at the stripes.

Rival fraternities are fighting in the stands at college games. Drunken imbeciles are pounding on one another in the stands at NFL games, thinking nothing of hurting other people. High schoolers and middle schoolers fight for the cameras — ‘‘World star!’’ — as dummies hold up their phones.

There’s unceasing gunfire in our cities and mass shootings everywhere. God bless America.

Poll workers feel unsafe because they are.

The son of a former president tweets jokes about an assault that left the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a skull fracture and other injuries.

We are more ‘‘us against them’’ than ever. We demonize others for their race, their religion, their sexuality, their politics, their team. We don’t merely disagree, we hate.

We want our athletes to know better, to do better, to be better, but why would anyone think that’s what’s going to happen? Athletes are supposed to settle things on the field? Really? Our nation’s leaders don’t accept the results of elections. Political attack ads are grotesque. Debates are like steel-cage matches.

On Jan. 6, 2021, chaos ran wild in the halls of the House of Representatives. We’re supposed to be surprised it happened in the tunnels of the Big House?


Three-dot dash

In sloppy football weather in Evanston, Northwestern outgained No. 2 Ohio State, possessed the ball for 36:26 to the Buckeyes’ 23:34, didn’t commit a turnover, didn’t hurt itself with penalties — in a nutshell, the ideal scenario — and still lost 21-7. Impressive effort, however. Something for the Wildcats to build on, maybe? . . . 

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol picked up the lunch tab Friday for unsuspecting customers in line at the Vienna Beef Factory Store in Bridgeport. There’s no truth to the rumor Sox fans already are grumbling about the Miami native’s strategies involving sport peppers and giardiniera. . . . 

A picture of Illinois basketball coach Brad Underwood painted by transfer Matthew Mayer, who won a national championship under Scott Drew at Baylor: “Coach Drew is a real upbeat, happy guy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Coach Underwood happy a day in his life. No, I’m just playing. Coach Underwood, he’s awesome, but he’s yelling a lot more.”

It’s an acquired taste. . . . 

ESPN Films recently wrapped production on a Candace Parker documentary, promising an ‘‘intimate portrait’’ of the Sky star shot during the last year. She deserves it. Women’s sports does, too. . . . 

I watched new Bears receiver Chase Claypool dominate Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold spring game in 2018. At a practice around then, then-coach Brian Kelly grabbed the 6-4 Claypool and told him: ‘‘You have all the tools. You just have to use them and put them all together.’’ Claypool was immersing himself in Julio Jones video at the time, and all the Irish defensive backs were buzzing about him.

Anyway, count me as excited about what he might do here. . . . 

All six of the Sun-Times’ official Dolphins-Bears pickers are taking the visitors Sunday at Soldier Field. As I did — correctly — in the season opener against the 49ers, I’m swimming against that tide. Bears, 23-21.

This you gotta see

Ravens at Saints (7:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN): The Ravens’ 24th-ranked defense can use a guy such as newcomer Roquan Smith, who makes his debut at middle linebacker. That’s assuming he can beat out Ray Lewis.

‘‘Say Hey, Willie Mays!’’ (8 p.m. Tuesday, HBO): A documentary examines the life and career of the man Reggie Jackson calls ‘‘the most spectacular baseball player that ever played.’’ Far be it from us to disagree with Mr. October, even in November.

‘‘Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals’’ (9 p.m. Wednesday, HBO): What’s that? The Cardinals are in last place? We’re sure the dozens of cameras poking around at all hours of the day had nothing to do with it.

Only because you asked

From James, via email: ‘‘This Grifol pick — huh? A bench coach on a perennial losing team who was let go? Never played the game but is a good communicator? Sounds like ‘meh’ to me, same as the Sox are ‘meh.’ ’’

You’re right to be skeptical about Grifol. He hasn’t managed and doesn’t bring the shine of a winner to town from Kansas City. But it’s unfair to hang the Royals’ losing on their bench coach, and it’s almost beside the point that he didn’t make it to the big leagues as a player. Rob Thomson, managing the Phillies in the World Series, didn’t. The Braves’ Brian Snitker, the Mets’ Buck Showalter and the Cardinals’ Oliver Marmol — playoff skippers this season — didn’t. A long list of winners — including Joe Maddon, Jim Leyland, Jack McKeon, Jim Frey and Earl Weaver — didn’t. Terry Bevington didn’t! OK, never mind that last one.

The bottom five

Top-ranked Tennessee: What kind of a dimwit would pick the Vols to win at Georgia? I mean, besides me.

World Series - Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Five

Yuli Gurriel’s World Series ended in Game 5.

Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Yuli Gurriel: Man, you’ve got to feel for the Astros first baseman. What could be worse than having to shut it down five games into the World Series because of an injury? Come to think of it, that’s probably a lot better than whatever Cubs and Sox players are doing.

IMG Academy: Did you hear the high school football superpower hung 96 points — in the first half — on West Toronto Prep? Any self-respecting pretend academic institution would’ve scored 100.

Hangovers: The defending champion Warriors are 3-7. Get it together, fellas.

Illinois: The heavily favored Illini couldn’t get out of their own way in an embarrassing effort against Michigan State. Whom do they think they are, every Illinois team before this one?

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