11/14/14 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Remember when you were a kid and your dad took you to your first sporting event? Remember the anticipation leading up to it? Remember how excited you were the day of that game? Remember the drunken idiots disguised as "fans" of your team who ruined it for you?
Do a quick Google search for "fans beaten at sporting events,and you can read on for hours about violent incidents that have occurred at professional sporting events. The sad, or even scary thing is, most of these incidents have happened in the past few years. It makes you wonder why you would even want to attend a game live.
The common factor with most of these incidents is alcohol. There's nothing wrong with having a few beers at a game, but it's when people take drinking at the game to a new level that the problems start. A rite of passage of going to an NFL game is partaking in the pre-game tailgating. Unfortunately for some, tailgating is just an excuse for getting hammered and making a fool of yourself at the game that you probably won't remember attending. As a sports fan, that doesn't make sense to me. If you're buying tickets to a professional sporting event, those tickets aren't cheap to begin with. So if you're going to pay for ticket and then drink yourself stupid, why even go to the game? If you want to get obnoxiously drunk, why not just stay home and do it in the confines of your own house where you're not a problem or a danger to yourself or anyone else?
Another factor is the mindset that you should be angry and aggressive at a sporting event. Why? Why not just go enjoy the game and cheer for your team? I'm from Pittsburgh, and I'm a die-hard Steelers and Penguins fan. So by nature, I despise the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Flyers. But not once have I ever wanted to fight a fan of either of those teams when I went to a game against them. I enjoy some good natured "interaction" with fans of rival teams. Make some jokes, have some fun at their expense, but be cool about it. There's a difference between good natured humor and being downright obnoxious. Just because it's your home teams biggest rival, it doesn't mean their fans can't come to your stadium or arena and cheer. Why should their experience be ruined just because they're wearing the opposing teams jersey? But more importantly, why should they have to worry about being assaulted because they're wearing the opposing teams jersey? For some reason, some fans think they are "super fans" and take things to the extreme but insulting and instigating opposing fans because they feel like these fans don't belong in "our house". It's not your house. It's a public venue where a sports exhibition is being held. You're not standing up for your team or doing them any good by acting like a tough guy because you think you're "protecting" your team. You make the fans of your team and your home city look like buffoons. And of course this behavior is enhanced by the more alcohol consumed by these "fans". Why be so angry? Some fans are angry at their own team and make the experience awful for other fans around them because all they do is complain during the game. If you're that mad, and you're that unhappy with your team, why are you spending the money on tickets? Just don't go to the games, problem solved! Sports are supposed to be fun, a place to enjoy yourself, so why go there if you're not having fun, not enjoying yourself, and making the event un-enjoyable for others? Do everyone a favor and stay home!
So maybe it's time for professional sports teams to take a stand and put an end to what in some cases, has become hooliganism. I'd say a 3 strikes and you're out policy that applies to ALL of the professional sports teams in your city. Why can't teams share a data base with the names of all violators? So if you're in Pittsburgh for example, and you get kicked out of Pirates game for public intoxication, that's strike one. You get kicked out of Penguins game a few months later for the same thing, that's strike two. You get cited for public urination outside of a Steelers game the season after, that's strike three, and you're out. Forever. You are banned for life from attending any professional sporting event in your city. And for more serious violations, like assaulting an opposing fan, it's one strike and you're out. It doesn't matter how long those season tickets have been in your family, if you act like a hooligan, you're gone and you don't come back. Ever. Those tickets are still going to sell, so no professional sports teams is going to lose money by taking this stand.
Going to a sporting event isn't a right, it's a privilege. And it certainly doesn't give fans the right to act like fools. Sporting events are supposed to be fun. They're supposed to be something families can do. They're supposed to be a place where a father and son can create memories. They're not supposed to be a place where people have to worry about being assaulted because they wore the other teams jersey.
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