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LSU, ESPN: It’s time to grow up and stop feeding paranoia

It has killed a man.

Alabama v LSU
Want to guess why he has state troopers around him?
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s just a damned game, people.

Family members of a devout Alabama football fan say he was fatally beaten while out celebrating Saturday night’s game in a Tangipahoa Parish bar.

A family member tells WBRZ that Bowers, a Louisiana resident, was an adamant fan of the Crimson Tide and had gone out to watch the Bama-LSU game earlier that night. They believe the attack was motivated by Bowers’ fandom.

I could not be more disgusted with every word of this story, the acts and omissions behind it, and the underlying attitudes that led to this. And I lay more than a little bit of this man’s death at the feet of ESPN, James Carville, and others — grownups need to get back in the room and dial the rhetoric and hurt feelings way down.

At any point in time Ed Orgeron, Joe Alleva or literally any responsible adult could have attempted to defuse the gnawing paranoia and anger and hostility in The Boot. They chose not to.

Yes, this story is also about beer muscles, smack-talking, and drunk rednecks. Yes, there are conflicting reports about the nature of the argument, including from authorities — but three things are clear: 1. The victim’s family that were in attendance said and maintains that it was about the game, 2. Bowers was not the aggressor, and 3. a great deal of the underlying vitriol could have been prevented or at least downplayed.

You absolutely know how this played out too, given the facts available (although the parish sheriff is trying his damnedest to minimize the role the game played): Bowers and his niece were drunk in a Louisiana bar. She was whooping it up after another thrashing and talked some smack, offering to buy the LSU fans drinls. The throat-beards up there, inflamed to an already-intolerable extent, confronted her. When Bowers when to defend to her, he was sucker punched. Then they beat and kicked him to death while he was on the ground.

Thus, it is as much about stoking hard feelings as it is about the ‘neckery of the action and the sucker punch itself. Yet, for competitive reasons, for the sheer televised spectacle, state actors and media jackwads not only chose not to tone down the boiling animus; rather, they sought to weaponize it and to exploit it, to cater to the worst excesses of outrage.

Mission accomplished: It may not be Lady McBeth’s damned spot, but you’ll still need to wash some of the blood off your hands.

Does Bowers death lie entirely at their doorstep? Of course not. Rational actors or not, drunken or not, these two men remain responsible for their actions. But, does more than a little bit of the underlying context, the emotional manipulation also fall upon the shoulders of those who are in a position to know and do better? Absolutely. And a man is dead.

It’s time to grow up, people.

For those who wish and can, the family is soliciting donations to bury a man who should have woken up on Sunday morning with nothing worse than a hangover.