As some of you know, I hail from the great state of Pennsylvania and am an adopted Phillies fan from my time living in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia sports fans have been accused, from not only the media but players as well, that their fans are some of the toughest and meanest in the game. From the snowballs, to batteries, to the many boos; Philly gets a tough rap and rightly so. But in all this, there aren’t too many incidences of Philly fans turning on other teams’ fans to the point of unconsciousness.
Bryan Stow, a 42-year-old father of two, was beaten to the point of a medically induced coma by a couple of Dodger fans on Opening Day. According to USC Medical Center’s Dr. Gabriel Zada, 'Stow is undergoing treatment for a severe skull fracture and bad bruising to his frontal lobe, and is showing signs of brain injury and dysfunction and could have permanent brain damage'.
Stow, a Giants season ticket holder, drove to L.A. for Opening Day to cheer on his World Champs. Ultimately the Giants ended up losing but in the parking lot he was attacked from behind by what police describe as men in their early 20’s. During the game he had sent a text message to a cousin saying he was ‘scared inside the stadium’. Stow is a paramedic; he has been trained and knows how to handle difficult situations.
The lesson in all of this other than the obvious: violence is not the answer; is that sports have created such a culture that grown men are scared of being inside venues wearing opposing teams paraphernalia.
Should it matter that Stow was wearing a Giants jersey? Not at all. This is America, this is just sports and not everyone roots for the same team. The argument that Stow or anyone asks to be harassed or attacked while at a sporting event is asinine. A six year old wearing a Derek Jeter jersey to a Red Sox game is not doing so with malice, it’s because Jeter is his favorite player.
Sporting events have gotten so out of hand that parents have refused to bring their kids to games because of the violence. That’s just sad. You can’t take a group of boys to a baseball game because you’re worried they might get heckled or have beer thrown on them.
Of course the next question is…who’s to blame? In the case of the Dodgers situation, it appears that this has been a problem for some time now. Over the past few years (during the tenure of Frank McCourt) the violence has gotten so out of hand that Dodger fans don’t even want to go to games anymore. And that’s been the sentiment in many football stadiums as well. Fans with families don’t want to bring their kids to games because of the violence, and language, and overall debauchery from the drunken idiots.
The answer to all the problems, or at least most, because there’s always that ace in the hole who doesn’t need anything to be a crazy person, is alcohol. In order to curb the violence at sporting events it's time to limit or end the sale of alcohol. The sad, simple truth is that too many drunk people have ruined it for the rest of us. I should mention that not every stadium and sports arena is like this. I have been to a number of Reds games in and with people in opposing teams gear and have never been scared for a minute; same goes for Bengals games.
In order to bring back a more civilized and ultimately fan-friendly feeling at the ballpark or stadium is set limits. End beer sales at half-time of games and during the 5th inning of baseball, and limit the time of tailgating to two hours before a game not five or six hours before. I know these rules seem extreme but I’d rather be safe and slightly intoxicated then blitzed out of my mind being hauled off in handcuffs.
On Monday night the Dodgers visit the Giants. There will no doubt be fans of the Dodgers at the ballpark; hopefully the Giants fans show more respect and restraint then was shown to one of their own.
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