I am a fan against violence and a mother against violence. On December 11, 2011, my son James Mohr was assaulted in the parking lot of MetLife Stadium after a NY Jets-Kansas City Chiefs game. James had been involved in a verbal exchange with a Kansas City fan who had made some comments about 9/11. He thought that he would enlighten her regarding the inappropriateness of her statements. When that discussion was ended, someone came from behind him and dealt him a beating that resulted in severe but thankfully not life-threatening injuries. Our family continues to be affected by this incident.
Of course, our lives came to a standstill as we spent days and nights at the hospital before and after the surgery done to repair James’ face, which had been broken in three places. More frightening was that he had some bleeding on the brain and had suffered a major concussion. James was 23 at the time, and healthy and strong. At first I obsessed about the brain and then started worrying that he would lose his dimples when his face was reconstructed. The plastic surgeon did a magnificent job and he still has those dimples. His eyes, however, are not in sync with one another and he still is being treated for that problem. The effects of the concussion are less apparent – mood swings, headaches, and all the things that sons don’t share with their mothers.
I have never been able to stand violent behavior. I can’t watch violence in movies, can’t even watch a boxing match. I don’t understand why anyone gets pleasure from hitting someone else. When I read about people being beaten, it used to make me sick. Now it makes me sicker. I think about James being left on the ground, his head bleeding and in a state of unconsciousness, and I am astounded that anyone could have done this to my son.
I question whether I should have encouraged my children to be competitive – they are indeed avid fans of some team in every sport. They have played soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, and have run track and are good swimmers. They have always wanted to win, and they have always wanted their teams to win. Although I don’t really believe that this was an instance of team rivalry, I know that those kinds of rivalries have resulted in similar violent behavior. It is not acceptable. We should be able to root for our teams without anticipating that a physical attack might ensue.
Given the catalyst of this event – the verbal exchange with the Kansas City fan–I wonder if I should have supported my son’s right to state his opinion about things and to believe that he could talk someone into adopting his point of view. Freedom of speech and all that – things I thought my children should appreciate. So I question myself constantly.
And I worry. Never having thought something like this could happen, now I know that it can and it does and it did. My children are adults and yet I never stop worrying. I wonder if I ever will stop worrying and if it’s possible to resign from this job as mother. There are doctor’s and hospital bills to contend with, a criminal case that we try to follow and of course the following up on the health issues. When I see strangers parked on our block, I wonder if someone is stalking one of my family members; if the phone rings in the middle of the night, my heart stops.
I realize that I have become a prisoner of sorts – that someone else’s criminal act has caused me to imprison myself with fear, uncertainty and negativity. By doing this, my spirit is impaired and everything is more difficult. Luckily, I have come to recognize this impairment and I am determined to knock down those prison walls and enjoy my freedoms and cheer for my teams. It is my hope that all fans may do the same in a healthy and safe environment and that no mother will have to meet her child in a trauma center after a football game.