Sports hold a certain level of honor and sportsmanship. Everyone shall respect the game and its rules, win or loss. Unfortunately, last Sunday when the Detroit Lions faced off against the Buffalo Bills, that level of honor, sportsmanship, and respect was not maintained. Ironically, the rebel who decided to disrespect the sport was not a player or a coach. As a matter of fact, this instigator was not even on the field. As it turns out, a Detroit Lions fan brought a high-grade laser pointer in to the stadium and was shining it in the eyes of several Buffalo Bill’s players at some of the most crucial points in the game. There were two distinctive plays in which the laser pointer clearly altered the outcome of the game. One of the plays was one in which Bills quarterback, Kyle Orton, threw an errant pass that sailed far behind his intended target. Thankfully for the Bills the ball landed harmlessly on the ground, but the play easily could have resulted in an interception. After the play, Orton is seen complaining to the referees pointing at his eyes, clearly recognizing that the laser pointer had affected is game play. At the time referees were unable to take action, and understandably, how would a referee narrow down a laser pointer to a single person in a crowd of 60,000 people. The next distinctive play where we see that the laser pointer had tampered with the outcome of the game was when Bills kicker, Dan Carpenter lined up for a 50 yard field goal attempt. There is a clear picture taken which shows a green laser pointed directly in to the eyes of the field goal holder’s eyes. Carpenter eventually missed the field goal which leaves us to thinking if the laser pointer had any influence on the outcome of that particular play. A single fan was able to take the outcome of one of the largest sporting events in the world, an NFL football game, in to his own hands.
Although this may have been the first time that a laser pointer was used to tamper with a game, it is by no means the first time that the outcome of a competition has been impacted by an outside influence. As we see in the funeral games of the 23rd book of Homer’s “The Iliad” the gods actually played a huge role in the outcome of the games. First, we look specifically at the chariot race. In the heat of the race, Diomedes finds himself gaining ground on Eumelos (who is currently in first place) when, like a laser pointer out of the stands, Apollo “dashed the shining whip from his hands, so that the tears began to stream from his eyes, for his anger as he watched the far ahead of him while his own horses ran without the whip and were slowed”(Homer 460). Apollo had a beef with Diomedes, so he took the only tool that gave him a chance of winning, his whip. But the intervention does not end there. Athene, seeing that Apollo had cheated, decided to take some justice of her own and “(gave) him (Diomedes) back his whip, and inspired strength in to his horses”(Homer 460). But it did not end there, “Then in her wrath she went on after the son of Admetos and she, a goddess, smashed his chariot yoke”(Homer 460). All too similar to an aforementioned field goal, Athena takes the game in to her own hands and destroys Eumelos’ chariot, which was at that point in first place. Both Apollo and Athena took the competitor’s skill, luck, and determination out of the race. Nothing else was left to the charioteers. At this point, the chariot race seemed like less of a game and more like hobby for the gods.
Both the NFL football game between the Lions and the Bills and the chariot race at the funeral games share some similar characteristics. First and foremost, they compromise the integrity of the game. The previously described character and honor of the game are decimated by outside sources interacting the competitive nature of sporting events. Outside factors ended up playing a role as opposed to solely the skill of the competitors. Although circumstances between the two scenarios seem similar, the outcomes actually varied greatly. As for our laser pointing friend, he was actually unable to will the Lions to victory over the Bills. Ironically enough, Dan Carpenter, who had missed a 50 yard field goal previously because of the laser pointer, hit the game winning 58-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the competition. Perhaps deservingly, the NFL plans to identify and pursue the person responsible for the laser pointing fiasco, and the culprit may potentially be banned from any further NFL events. Fortunate enough for the gods in the funeral games, they were able to actually change the outcome of the chariot race as they propelled Diomedes to victory, much to the chagrin of Eumelos. And as for any repercussions that the gods may have faced, mere mortals don’t have much authority to enforce any punishment on them, so they got away with compromising the integrity of an athletic event scot-free.