Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When Fans Attack

It's hard to imagine that rivalries in sports can invoke enough emotion and anger to beat someone senseless into a coma. Such was the case last week at Dodger Stadium when Bryan Stow was brutally attacked for wearing a San Francisco Giants Jersey. There is no way to predict how ignorant fans will respond in a hostile environment so what's the solution for these random acts of violence? Do we tell fans they can't wear jerseys of the opposing team at home games? Do we add security to sporting venues? Do we tell patrons they can only root for one team?
As a trash talking sports fan I've been on both ends of the spectrum. I've been the guy in the sports bar rooting for the Lakers when everyone else was rooting for the Celtics. I've been the guy heckling Steeler fans after Super Bowl XL. I've been the guy throwing eggs at WSU students during Apple Cup weekend. Too often sports fans project themselves into the role of team protector. They feel the need to defend their squad against anyone who doesn't share their opinion and opposes their views. Fans poison trees in Alabama. Fans fire employees for wearing a tie with the opponents emblem on it. Michigan Wolverine fans refuse to do business with anyone associated with The Ohio St. University. Sports fans can be irrational to say the least, but you should never have to fear for your safety because of the team you cheer for. The same things that make sports so popular are the same things that make sports so ugly. I seriously doubt the fans that attacked Bryan Stow meant to cause permanent brain damage. I think they wanted to protect their turf and let outsiders know they weren't appreciated. THey took their make believe role too seriously. This unfortunate incident is an example of what can happen when fans don't keep things in perspective. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder to unruly fans that they are not the ones participating in the sport and physical violence predicated on the outcome of a game is grossly inappropriate.

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