Dear Margo: Of Pucks and Drunks

What should I do when sport fans take it one step to far? Margo Howard’s advice

Of Pucks and Drunks

Dear Margo: I’m a huge hockey fan, probably because I adored Peter Forsberg. I used to attend games with my father, but when he died, it hurt to think of being there without him. Recently, an aunt invited me to go with her. I was pleased and offered to pay for good seats, but she insisted we sit in the nosebleed section and she would pay. Margo, I hate those seats, and not because you can’t see, but because the fans are drunken brutes. But hesitantly, I agreed.

The night of the game we sat near four college boys who drank more and more as the Avs lost. They were rowdy and crude, and they screamed a lot. Then they disappeared for a while (getting more alcohol, I assume), and a family came in and asked whether those seats were free. I told them no, and that they should keep their distance because the men sitting there were pretty drunk and belligerent. They heeded my advice and sat a few rows away. Well, sure enough, the drunks came back and noticed the family. One of the little boys was wearing a jersey from the opposing team. The college boys swore and yelled and said loudly they should throw the kid over the glass into the lower seats.

This seems to come with the cheap tickets: complementary drunk jerkwads screaming obscenities. I feel like I should have told security. Does security handle this sort of thing often, or are these just sports guys being sports guys? In Colorado, at least, it’s always like that, so maybe it’s the norm. How do you defuse such a situation? — Cringing in Colorado

Dear Cringe: First of all, hockey is anathema to me. The one time I went to see the Blackhawks, I watched for a while and blurted, “My God, they’re on skates!” It is a violent sport, so I’m not surprised the spectators are prone to getting blotto. My guess is that security does handle behavior they deem unacceptable, but, as you say, it may be the norm and therefore “acceptable.” The answer for you I would think is to stay out of the nosebleed seats. — Margo, puckishly

Wondering ‘What If?’

Dear Margo: A philosophical sociological question for you: Is it wrong of me to think our culture might improve if, when one has caused harm, we had the suicide ethic of ancient Japan? — Moose

Dear Moo: I must admit this thought has occurred to me, as well. Too many people, most often in business or government, have overstepped so egregiously to enrich themselves or to accomplish an evil goal that, on a moral scorecard, the only appropriate compensatory gesture would seem to be to check out. The reasons this will not happen, however, are 1) this was never a part of Western culture, and 2) often the miscreants have rationalized their actions so they feel neither shame nor guilt. (Hence the popularity of the “victimless crime” defense.) The old standby of “everyone does it” has also diluted any sense of accountability.

Occasionally, even now, an Asian businessman who tanks a company will take himself out. (“To fall on one’s sword” at one time was, literally, the way an Asian took responsibility for an action about which he felt guilt and remorse.) I can live without people falling on their swords as the ultimate apology, but it would be nice if people who had blundered disastrously or clearly violated trust — public or private — would offer a mea culpa and make a stab at reparation. — Margo, wistfully

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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74 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Violet says:

    I think publishing letter two was in terrible taste. Bernie Madoff’son recently hung himself from the aftermath of his involvement in the financial scandal. No matter what awful deeds he may have done, it was a tragedy for his wifes and young child. Even joking about a custom of killing yourself is not rightin my opinion.

    • avatar Violet says:

      Oops, pardon the typos in my post.

    • avatar TheTexasMom says:

      I remember back in 1989 when Exxon Valdez spilled the oil in Alaska a congressman implied that the then Chairman/CEO of Exxon should “take care of himself” in the Japanese manner and Mr. Rawl replied, Sir, I am not Japanese.  No point in killing yourself if you take responsibility for your actions.   Besides, the comments should have been directed towards Captain Hazlewood.

      As for the frist letter, NO – bad actions by spectators, not matter where your seats are located are not acceptable and security should have been called. 

      • avatar TheTexasMom says:

        Just to clarify, I was in no way suggesting someone should kill themselves because they comminted any sort of crime; I was just relaying an antedote that stuck with me.

        In regards to LW1, all ticketholders, regardless of the price they paid for the tickets, are entitled to enjoy the game and not have the experience soiled by others.  If the rowdy group of people were drunk AT the game they would be drunk upon leaving so security should be called so they would be cut off and possiblly held until they sobered up somewhat.

        I don’t know why I ever bother to post a comment because 90% of the time my posts don’t convey what I’m thinking.

      • avatar SandEE says:

        I just wanted to say that Captain Hazelwood was not the one primarily at fault in the Exxon Valdez disaster. Exxon severely understaffed their tankers, and they ran the sea tours for much longer than advisable. That means that the crew was over worked and under-rested. Hazelwood was not on duty that night. Yes, he had had a few drinks, but again, he was not working that night and had come off of a long shift. He and the crew rarely had shore leave. In addition, Exxon chose to not improve the hulls of their tankers in yet another cost cutting measure.

        I don’t know Captain Hazelwood personally, but he is just another example of an individual paying a huge price for failures that were largely at the corporate level. So, yeah, senior management at Exxon did deserve to fall on their swords — but instead they let someone else take the full brunt of the punishment.

        • avatar Carmen Clemons says:

          Wasn’t a radar system busted and not replaced for years as well?

          • avatar TheTexasMom says:

            I personally do not know the captain either however my stepfather did as he worked for Exxon Shipping (the name at the time) for 24 years and always would complain Hazlewood as an a-hole to work with, which had little or nothing to do with anything. If am not mistaken, at the time of the incident the tanker was less than 3 years old so it probably had the best hull out there at the time.  Depending on several circumstances and route you were sailing (international versus domestic) when you were onboard ship you had the rotation on 90 on/45 off, 60/30 or 30/15 however you were not constantly working all the time.  I’m not quite sure what  was mean by mean by given no shore leaves because if you had the Baytown Texas route to Bayonne NJ  there were several stops along the way (Virginia, The Carolinas) and one could get off the ship.   If you were on the international route from Texas, California, Alaska or New York to say Italy, Spain of the continent of Africa, there not too many places to stop and take ship leave but once there you could get off the ship.   I have many trinkets from those places I have passed on to my children so I know you could.  And when the ship s anchored Long Beach, CA my stepfather would visit my mom’s family out there and he saw them more than she did. IMHO, I think the biggest mistake in all of this was, Exxon had just undergone its first workforce reduction ever and people with expertise and knowledge were gone  and also this was the first major oil spill and worst disaster ever at the time and management did not know how to respond.  The CEO did not visit Prince William Sound for weeks because he said, “I’ve been there before and I know what it looks like” = bad public relations.

    • avatar Pdr de says:

      “Bernie Madoff’son recently hung himself from the aftermath of his involvement in the financial scandal. ” Madoff’s son had no involvement in the financial scandal. He and his brother ran a separate business in the same building where their father conducted his business. They claim, and no one has been able to prove after a lengthy investigation, that they had no knowledge whatsoever of their father’s deceiving all those people. The son’s, upon finding it out, turned him into the authorities. That took great courage and strong moral values (surprising, I know, given the actions of their father who had no moral values whatsoever). After that this troubled man had no further contact whatsoever with his father and ultimately, when his mother went to visit their father and refused to walk away (until she found out about his long-term affair) , he had no further contact with her either. I felt terribly sad that he was so troubled he took his own life. He tried previously but this time he succeeded. His father destroyed a lot of lives – one investor ended his life when he lost everything. I hope Bernie Madoff lives a long time so he can come face-to-face with the hell he created in the lives of his own family, his friends and associates and strangers who trusted him. He’s beneath contempt!

      • avatar Pdr de says:

        “They claim, and no one has been able to prove after a lengthy investigation, that they had no knowledge whatsoever of their father’s deceiving all those people. ”

        I should have written, “They claim and no one has been able to prove OTHERWISE after a lengthy investigation, that they had no knowledge whatsoever of their father deceiving all those people.”

        “The son’s, upon finding it out, turned him into the authorities.”

        Should have typed “The brothers, upon finding out what their father had done, immediately turned him over to the authorities.”

        Sorry, having a bit of a scare right now regarding my mammogram – have to return to the imaging department this morning for more mammograms – hoping it’s a glitch. It’s interfering with my concentration at the moment, however.

        • avatar Obediah Fults says:

          One step at a time, Pdr de, and don’t borrow trouble; there’s enough to go around. I’ll be thinking of you this morning. Do let us know, please.

        • avatar TheTexasMom says:

          Sorry for you scare and hope all will work out fine.   I do understand as I had bad an abnormal pap just this past May but in the end it all woked itself out.

        • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

           I understood your post just fine.  I hope all is well.

    • avatar Obediah Fults says:

      “Pictures are hung, people are hanged.” (A 5th Grade Language lesson that stuck in my mind like “Hens lay, people lie.”)

  2. avatar TheTexasMom says:

    Seriously in need of an edit button as I can’t type either.

  3. avatar Karen Ferguson says:

    I have this awful feeling that people so capable of remorse as to pay with their lives are also, down deep, characterized by some kind of goodness. It’s the high-level psychopaths, the stellar powerful people who are often in public positions and who believe rules apply, but only to other people, who are incapable of remorse. And they are the only ones who would be left.

    • avatar CatA says:

      I’m inclined to agree with Karen that the really heinous offenders, at least in Western society, don’t show remorse, and those are the jerks we are left with.  Hell, the captain of the Costa Concordia wouldn’t go back onto the boat and execute rescue operations for the 4,000+ people who’s lives he held responsibility for and jeopardized, or ended, with his stupid choice to cut too close to Giglio.  Haven’t heard a word of remorse out of that sonofabitch, have we?

      • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

        That sounds more like cowardice to me though.  I would bet that eventually he will indicate in some way that he is remorseful, but I would not be surprised either way.

  4. avatar AnonyMiss says:

    Bravo to Margo and Wowowow for publishing letter #2 – a thought-provoking question and a thoughtful, intelligent answer.

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      The showboating captain of the Costa Concordia who bailed out ahead of passengers when things went awry sounds like an excellent candidate. Italians — indeed folks the world over — are having no use for this lying coward.

  5. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  If there is a next time, seek out security.  I know hockey is a rough sport and the fans can be unruly, but security is there for a reason.   I am not a hockey fan but my husband is and he supports the Flyers.  He claims that Philadelphia fans are the most boorish in the country at any sport and even worse at Flyers’ games.  He is from Philadelphia so I will take his word for it. 

    LW#2:  I’m in favor of shunning and shaming the villians. 

  6. avatar wlaccma says:

    Right now I am thinking about the captain of the ship that is laying on its side in Italy. He “jumped ship” instead of helping people. He says he “fell” into a boat and did not go back. I wonder how guilty he feels about now.

  7. avatar Orchid64 says:

    Both the question and answer in letter two display ignorance about the reasons for modern suicides as a result of shame or failure. I can’t speak to what it was in the age of samurai, but I’ve lived in Japan for the past 23 years and even the Japanese will tell you it isn’t about “taking responsibility”. It’s about cowardice and humiliation. The men who fail and kill themselves are running away from the fallout. They leave their wives and children to face lives of hardship and debt as a result of their actions alone. They also live with the shame and disgrace brought on by the father’s actions (they are not absolved because he killed himself). Such men are weak because they’d rather run away than try to live life from that point on at a lesser level of employment or income.

    While it would be nice if all people who harmed others felt remorse, apologized, and sought to make amends, holding up the Japanese as any sort of positive example is simply a reflection of ignorance.

    • avatar martina says:

      Thank you, that is exactly what it is  – cowardice to face the consequences of your actions.  Let them live and deal with the humiliation and punishment.  Death is too easy for them.

      But, I have often wonder if when those who are comtemplating suicide (who are truly despondent and have not screwed up royally) would think of the mess and heartache they are leaving behind would still do it. 

      • avatar catydid says:

        people who are so low as to be contemplating suicide are generally not capable of thinking about the ramifications to their loved ones. they are thinking only of their own pain. i once took sleeping pills while my five year old was lying next to me…later when a social worker at the hospital asked me ‘what about the legacy you would be leaving your children?’ (which was not the right choice of words, but i understood what she was getting at) i simply stared back. i wasn’t thinking about my kids at all in that moment. i was only wanting very badly to escape my pain…

    • avatar lisakitty says:

      Excellent post.

    • avatar Koka Miri says:

      Yes, thank you for clarifying. I had the same exact thoughts.

    • avatar John Lee says:

      I think you are probably right in the general sense, that killing oneself is viewed as weak and running away from the fallout.

      However, I think there are plenty of situations where that is not the case.  If someone neglected to be a whistleblower, or chose to not stand up for others and those inactions or failures resulted in the death of innocents, then killing oneself isn’t weak or running away.

      In many cases, those who caused irreparable harm (like death or suffering for survivors) are able to escape penalties for their mistakes (say a low level Nazi war criminal or some uncaught terrorist).  How would that be “cowardice and humiliation” to kill themselves if no one knows of their crime?  But if they killed themselves due to guilt and finally recognizing remorse years later and left a suicide note, that would not be viewed as cowardly, at least in my view.

      I think the key is whether or not such a person is required to face consequences.  If they are not and they kill themselves, then it is not cowardly.  If they are about to face consequences but they kill themselves first, then it is cowardly.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      @Orchid64: Asking modern Japanese about ancient practices is about akin to asking extreme Right-Wing fundamentalist Christians about the Founding Fathers religious and political beliefs…they are heavily invested in revisionism. Seppuku was not just about men killing themselves out of cowardice due to humiliation, nor was it just about *men*. Men defenestrated themselves in a specific manner, and had a second to decapitate them. Women could, and did commit seppuku, by slashing their throats, and could also be afforded a second. A given person could be denied permission to commit seppuku by one’s daimyo…it wasn’t something one did because one was simply embarrassed or upset. Acts of extreme cowardice, treason, murder, rape and other social crimes could cause a person to be *ordered* to commit the act. If the crime was grave enough, ALL members of that person’s family could receive the order, from the great-grandparents to the smallest infants (with assistance) and the family would be annihilated. A woman could also request permission to commit seppuku (rather than divorce, which was perfectly acceptable in feudal Japan if her husband was abusing her) in order to shame her husband, and for a variety of other reasons, including making a political or social point, or because she was terminally ill or in chronic pain.

      If we were living by the laws and societal practices of feudal Japan, the suicide of Bernie Madoff’s son would be seen as an honorable act ultimately exonerating himself from any involvement in his father’s shameful and scandalous behavior, and also as a statement to his father that he, Bernie Madoff, ought to take similar steps rather than face life as a craven, worthless, thieving destroyer of his family’s honor, and the lives of many innocent people. The son’s family would be PROUD of him, and would be well taken care of and be provided for for life because of his honorable act.

      It is nearly impossible for most people to step outside of their own time and culture, which is why, I’m certain, there have already been so many outraged responses to L#2. For me, not so much. The feudal Japanese lived in a brutal world of tsunamis, earthquakes, fires and war in which life was very fleeting. Theirs’ was one of the most uniquely isolated cultures and societies in history. And one of the most civilized, and brutal. Ours is, in many ways, not so different, except that the “death” is sometimes virtual…although the brutality is not. It would be interesting, in my opinion, to see people actually held accountable for their crimes. Prison makes better criminals out of those incarcerated…and the recidivist rate is sickeningly high…even for white-collar crime. While we foot the bill.

      So, would I support a Bernie Madoff publicly making the two cuts? Our culture is steeped in artificial violence…so, though perhaps not *publicly* for the edification of the kiddies, but in some form or fashion, in a setting in which he would be made to know that he had lost everything…yes, I think so. I am a proponent of the Death Penalty, and not PC enough to mince words and call it “Capital Punishment”. There are some individuals who have done things that make them worthy of only one thing…elimination from the species. Yes, I’d push the button. No qualms. Why would I wait for “god” to sort them out? Prisons are over-crowded…it’s amazing who “they” will decide is reformed, has found Jesus, is no longer dangerous, etc., and let out to hang toddlers in closets, or rape teenage girls…or boys…or blow up buildings or trains or cars. I also have no problem with consequences for certain criminal acts that involve public humiliation…such as caning. I’m not certain that littering ot shouting an obscenity qualifies…but I loathe spitting, especially expectorations resulting from indulging in “dip”, snuff or “chew”, soooo… Those who think that humiliation will permanently damage the tender psyches of our spoiled youth (not to mention entitled adults) are probably the same sort who cry, “Not MY child!” when Jane or Dick decide to rob a store at gunpoint for drug Ecstasy or nose-candy funds, or harass some poor student literally to death just for daring to live. And yes, this would apply to my children too. I have one who is reaping the sad effects of his bio father’s and grandmother’s refusal to believe that he can control himself…or that he should.

      I’m sure that I’m in the minority. I’m even more certain that I’ll be called out as a reactionary, Right-Wing Moran. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I support full equal rights for all sexual orientations, including marriage, insurance, power-of-attorney and adoption, believe in full separation of church and state, especially government and public schools, full womens’ reproductive rights, including the right to Free choice vis a vis abortion, and do NOT believe that any pharmacist should have the right to deny a woman birth control. I want us out of the Middle East…and also understand why we aren’t yet…I believe in supporting Mexico by providing jobs there for the ci