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Just My Take: American Paranoia Story

John Reidy Avatar
June 17, 2016


Just-my-take (1)The 1977 film, Black Sunday, was about a terrorist plot to detonate a blimp filled with shrapnel over the crowd attending Super Bowl X in Miami. Born from the paranoia of the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics in 1972, the plot of Black Sunday seemed plausible but didn’t quite hit home because things like that just didn’t happen to us. But they do now.

While the plot of Black Sunday is a bit extreme, we’re now faced with the possibility of terror attacks on a daily basis. Not just at big events like the Super Bowl, but at something as common as a night out on the town. And in the wake the Orlando massacre that left 50 dead and many more injured, the idea of a Black Sunday in our lives creeps further and further to the forefront of our minds.

After the Aurora theater shooting, what was your experience like the first time you went back to see a movie? I certainly kept a keen eye on where the exits were. And now to this day, I always pay even cursory attention to where possible escape routes are wherever I go.

This is how we live now.

Someone mocked me on social media for claiming this. They said I wasn’t living my life because I was too pre-occupied with things that were statistically unfeasible. But is an extra bit of wariness a hindrance to your daily life or something that will keep you and your loved ones safe?

Who knows? There’s no rhyme or reason to these attacks, but you can’t live in fear and stay inside your house as attractive as that seems at times. Acting like you can be safe 100% of the time though is quickly becoming a falsehood.

I’ve been at Mile High Stadium and thought “what if a plane crashed here right now?” How would you get out, if it all? It’s far-fetched and unthinkable but so is a guy opening fire on a crowded nightclub full of people having a good time. And when you congregate somewhere that could become a potential target, these are things we are unfortunately faced with in our supposed modern society.

At a recent Rockies game, I was a bit late getting in. I heard the crowd go wild as I walked up to the gate and naturally assumed the Rockies had scored. When I got to my seat, sure enough, it was 1-0 Rox. I asked the man sitting by himself next to me who had hit a home run. He waved his hand and in a very thick Middle Eastern accent said, “no home run, no home run.”

His grasp of English wasn’t great and I noticed he was consulting his google translate which I heard speak what I assumed to be Arabic. He was having a great time, eating ballpark food and cheering on the Rockies with the rest of us.

And then around the fourth or fifth inning, he got up and as he walked past me, he motioned to his backpack and asked if I’d watch his bag.

I said yes, and he walked up to the Club Level. Then some time passed, an inning or two, and the man hadn’t come back yet. And this is where my modern American paranoia started creeping in. Why was he gone so long? He was just by himself. It’s not like he had anyone to hang out with up there. Why would he leave his bag with a total stranger?

In my mind, there was a bomb in his bag and it was going to go off at any time. And yours truly would be a casualty of the first ever terrorist attack at Coors Field. At least I would have died doing what I loved: sitting on the Club Level.

But rational thought kicked in. And instead of freaking out and alerting the Coors Field staff which could have lead to the stadium being evacuated, I calmly thought through the situation. Coors Field security is pretty tight and it would be hard to sneak through enough firepower to blow up anything. And I had no reason to suspect this guy was up to no good. It was entirely possible he was just some Arabic speaking dude who wanted to take in a baseball game, and the only thing he was blowing up was the bathroom from all of the junk he was eating.

So I cooled it. Watched the game and after a while, he came back and sat down again. Crisis averted. But was I wrong to have this enter my mind? That’s for you to decide.

Sporting events are undoubtedly targets of terror plots or mass killings. A suicide bomber was thankfully denied entry into the Stade de France during the Paris terror attacks, and it’s being prevented in our country too due to a not so subtle uptick in security. It’s natural to be paranoid. We’ve seen too many recent atrocities committed to not be. But if you frequent sporting events, it shouldn’t deter you from going. Looking at it with a different lens is part of the world we live in now.

You’re rolling the dice when you go to a large event with thousands of other people, but you’re also rolling the dice walking across the street. Here’s to everyone staying safe and hoping the only Black Sunday you endure is one where some Raiders fans are sitting in your section at Mile High. Come to think of it, being blown up would be a welcome mercy compared to that.

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