Calling what Shaun Ellis threw at Seattle Seahawks season ticket holder Robert Larsen a snowball would be an understatement. As the New York Jets were exiting the Qwest Field tunnel amid a snowstorm, Ellis reached into a snowbank, picked up a huge mound of ice and threw it into the stands, hitting Larsen at near point-blank range. Ellis was fined $10,000 by the NFL after the incident and, on Monday, Larsen filed suit, naming Ellis and the Jets as defendants.
And, of course, it was all captured on video.
I bring this up not because of the incident, or the lawsuit that resulted, but because of the ugly aftermath at the Apple Cup in Pullman a few weeks ago. Crews worked for days to dig Martin Stadium out from under nearly a foot of snow, but couldn't get it all hauled away from the stadium. What do you get when you combine inebriated fans with chunks of ice? A hazardous situation, of course!
Band members, coaches, fans and even injured players weren't safe. Sports Press Northwest documented some of the action, interviewing band members hit by a barrage of snowballs.
That's not snow. Those are giant chunks of ice.
Throwing snowballs is a fun pastime we've all taken part in. Some of my fondest memories are giant neighborhood snowball fights as a child. Heck, even as an adult a good snowball fight is fun. But when it crosses the line at a sporting event, where emotions already run high, that's a problem.
Ellis should be punished above and beyond the $10,000 he was fined at the time. But part of the blame lies with the fans pelting players with snowballs and ice chunks as they came off the field. It should go both ways. Fans shouldn't throw projectiles at players and the players shouldn't retaliate by throwing projectiles at the fans. We've all seen what happens when player/fan interaction goes bad.