Prior to Monday night's Vikings-Bears game at TCF Bank Stadium, players were complaining about the unaccommodating field conditions. As it happened, the field wasn't all they had to worry about, as fans in the Golden Gophers' stadium began to pelt snowballs at the Bears' bench.
Apparently, some fans didn't hold their liquor so well. University officials say campus police had to escort several fans out of the stadium for general rowdiness. Some threw snowballs at some of the Chicago Bears players as they sat on their bench.
Though they were playing only a couple of miles from their caved-in Metrodome, the Vikings did not receive preferential treatment:
Some in the home crowd let the Vikings know how unhappy they were by hurling snowballs at the home bench in the second half as the Bears pulled away by outscoring the Vikings 23-7. An afternoon snowstorm gave them plenty of ammunition.
This is the natural product of a snowstorm, drunkenness, boredom, and crappy football. Neither of these reports say anything about either bench taking retaliatory action; the Bears were probably in a fun-loving mood after clinching the NFC North, and the Vikings were probably too numbed by the cocktail of bitter cold and a rotten season to notice.
It's just as well, because snowball hysteria in the sporting world has burgeoned as of late. A couple of weeks ago, the University of Cincinnati mascot was arrested for throwing snowballs. And last week, a Seahawks fan filed a lawsuit against the Jets' Shaun Ellis for throwing a snowball at him a couple of years ago.
Note that we are not talking about iceballs (snowballs compacted so tightly that they can actually hurt someone), or snowballs with rocks inside of them. We're simply talking about the snowball, a projectile capable of dispensing such mirth that the snowball's Wikipedia page explains how best to make one.
Snowballs are the tertiary language of Winter; in addition to expressing mirth, they can express a palette of complex emotions, from displeasure to a spirit of vengeance. (Can snowballs be thrown out of a spirit of remorse or malaise? Probably!) As such, I submit that the hurling of snowballs is protected under the First Amendment, and we should treasure the only element of our language which literally stings.