“Have you ever been to the streamer ward of a hospital?” Lisa Guided asked, a tear rolling down her cheek. “It’s God awful.”
I listened to Ms. Guided, the NCAA’s chair of player and fan safety, as her voice trembled. For someone that’s spent decades of her life keeping people safe, you could tell streamers had gotten the best of her on more than one occasion.
As we spoke outside the practice fields in Pasadena (Ms. Guided is there to ensure player safety for the Rose Bowl practices) she began telling me her streamer horror stories.
“It was 2004,” she said. “JMU played Montana in the FCS National Championship. After the final seconds ticked off the clock, a fan threw a streamer onto the field. It unraveled and tripped a Montana senior. He fell and … and … oh, I can’t get through this!”
Tears flowed down her cheeks as I consoled her. Ms. Guided began to sob uncontrollably.
“Hey, hey, hey,” I said. “What’s the worst that could’ve happened? Did he skin his knee?”
“Yes!” she wailed. “It even bled a little!”
At this point, we were both crying. Finally, after 30 minutes of shaking and sniffling, we gathered ourselves. Ms. Guided watched Oklahoma’s practice to settle her nerves. As Sooner defenders came barreling in and laid helmet-to-helmet hits on star quarterback Baker Mayfield, Downer slowly became herself again.
“There’s nothing better than college football,” she said as Mayfield lay lifelessly on the ground, almost certainly concussed. “This is good, wholesome fun.”
After the bone-crushing hits calmed Ms. Guided, she began to tell me about the Montana senior who fell against JMU thanks to a pesky streamer.
“I met him in the locker room,” she said. “He was bawling his eyes out. He told me about how he just played his last game in a Montana uniform. His career was over because of a stupid streamer. It’s frightening to think about.”
Ms. Guided went on. She told story after story of college football players and fans skirting death after run-ins with streamers. As Ms. Guided accurately pointed out, “Everyone to come in contact with a purple and gold streamer has either died already or will eventually die.”
While her stories all scared me to a certain extent, there was one that sent chills down my spine.
“The Dukes were scoring a lot this day,” Ms. Guided said as Mayfield vomited behind her, his head throbbing as trainers discussed how they’d rush protocol to have him ready for the game against Georgia. “Streamers filled the sky. As they fell, piles built up. And these weren’t ordinary piles of streamers, they were huge. Then, it happened.”
I started to sweat as Ms. Guided described the “streamer monster” to me.
“He was excitable, but terrifying,” she said fearfully, unable to make eye contact. “You could barely see his face. He had these weird contraptions for arms. They made a horrible ‘ping’ sound when he slammed them together like a barbarian. He smelled like Busch. He was truly a beast.”
As she showed me a picture, it took all my will power to stop from fleeing the room. I’ve never seen a being that scary in my 22 years on Earth. At that moment, my mind changed.
I get that streamers can be fun. I get that streamers are enjoyable at times. But the streamer ban is a must. For goodness sake JMU fans, it’s for your own safety.