Leading up to this year’s Duel in the Desert, several friends asked Kim or I why we no longer attend the game when it’s held down in Tucson. I’ve been to several of those rivalry games, but we’ve skipped it the last 6 or 8 years.
Simple: it’s dangerous, and no longer fun.
I’ve been goaded into several fights, had food flung on me, had my car vandalized, had some pretty nasty things said about Kim, and generally not had a good time, even during our customary beatdown of the UA team. The last time the Devils played in Tucson, the crowd threw full water bottles at our bench, knocking out one of our medical staff. Nice.
The so-called “Zona Zoo” has gotten so bad that UA instituted a code of conduct policy and added spotters to keep an eye on the violence and vitriol. Way to represent the University.
During this year’s game, the Arizona football staff purposefully opens the gates to the field to the fans with more than 5 minutes left in the game. The crowd surges right up to the playing field, just feet from the players…with shouting, spitting, middle fingers, and some physical contact. If that was the UA bench, the team would have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Instead, it was constructed by Arizona Stadium staff.
It’s so bad that the Police make sure that Jody Jackson, the FSN sideline reporter, is ushered off the field before the end of the game because they are so concerned about her safety. A sideline reporter! Who has security around her, and who’s primary job is to get post-game interviews from players and coaches. It’s so dangerous that she has to flee before the game’s even over. If that doesn’t speaks volumes about the situation—fostered by the UA Athletics Department—then, I’m not what does.
It’s a real shame, but that’s why we don’t go. This is a situation that desperately needs to be fixed.