Thirty years ago, 11 people were killed trying to watch The Who perform in concert in Cincinnati. The 11 were among 18,000 people with tickets to the event, and they were crushed, trampled, or suffocated in the concertgoers’ mad rush to claim the best seats for a performance by one of the premier rock bands of all time. Amazingly, the concert promoters did not sell tickets with assigned seat numbers. It was first come, first served for seats, and the crush of people trying to sit up close led to one of the worst concert disasters in American music history.
The Who concert tragedy occurred when I was in college, in the prime of my rock concert attendance days. It was one of those events that shook your world view and made you pause for a moment. I’ve never had a problem being in a big crowd, and I’ve felt the awesomely powerful surge as a mass of people move forward in unison. It’s a real adrenalin rush. The Who concert deaths made me realize that if I fell or was pressed against the wall, the crowd would not stop or falter — and then, being young, I went ahead and attended the concert or sporting event anyway.
My guess is that most young people have never heard of the deaths at Riverfront Colisseum. As I have aged, however, my perspective on the tragedy has changed. I feel I know how the parents of the young people who died must have felt as they watched their teenager or college student leave that evening for a fun night at a music show — and then later found out that their sons and daughters had died senselessly and needlessly. Those are the kinds of stories that make every parent feel sick, and sad, and hopeful that they never have to receive such horrific news.
The facility is no longer called Riverfront Colisseum. There is nothing to commemorate the event at that location, and Cincinnati no doubt would prefer to forget a tragic event that is seen as a civic black eye. As the linked article indicates, however, some of the survivors of the dead are trying to place a memorial at the location. It seems appropriate.
Tonight the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers play for the right to play Ohio State in Pasadena. The two teams’ in-state rivalry is fierce — the game is known in Oregon as the “Civil War” — and for the first time in 113 games whichever team wins will play in the Rose Bowl.
I haven’t followed the PAC-10 closely this year and don’t have a strong sense about which team is likely to win. I just think that one of the best things about college football, and one of the reasons why I prefer it to the pros, is the intense rivalries that exist in every conference, from sea to shining sea. Oregon-Oregon State is one of those great rivalries. Out in the Pacific Northwest fans of both teams no doubt are getting stoked for the game as I write this.
The strong feelings generated by rivalry games always make for exciting, emotional play, and in this game we have the added bonus of getting to do a little scouting of Ohio State’s opponent in the Rose Bowl. Go Ducks! Go Beavers!
Edited to add: It will be the Ducks versus Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Oregon beat Oregon State 37-33 last night.
As the weather has turned colder, the New Albany bird population has changed. The robins, blue jays, and cardinals of the summer are long since gone, and flocks of Canadian geese have been moving through, using the pond on the Yantis Loop as one of their stops as they fly south for the winter. They tend to be noisy, messy visitors, honking and crapping as they rest for the night before leaving the next day.
This morning I noticed that the swan couple that has occupied the Yantis Loop pond this year seems to have departed. They had been fixtures on my morning walks as I passed the pond — their bright white forms standing out in sharp contrast against the black pond water, drifting in lazy circles, with their long necks twisted and their heads tucked under their wings as they dozed. This morning they were gone, leaving only the female duck with the apparent broken wing and her faithful mallard companion to occupy the pond as I strolled past.
Winter will soon be here.