Fan Behavior in Sports
Is it Worth Fighting Over Colorful Threads?
Something has happened to sports fans. No longer is it acceptable to local fans, for anyone, whether resident or visitor, to cheer on an opposing team, and woe to thee who wears the opponent’s jersey. What happened to allow this type of knuckle dragging behavior to become acceptable?
Yet, it doesn’t end there. This type of thug behavior has also become acceptable amongst the players themselves, in both the amateur and professional levels. In an article published on Livescience.com entitled "Bad Sports Behavior Starts in Youth," they make a fine point on it:
“These actions have become so prevalent that academic researchers have created a branch of study called ‘deviance in sports’ attached to the sports sociology tree."
In their new book, Deviance and Social Control in Sport, researchers Michael Atkinson and Kevin Young emphasize the confusing environment surrounding athletes. They describe two types of deviance: wanted and unwanted.
"Owners, players and fans may know that certain behaviors are literally against the rules, but are, at the same time, appreciated as a sign of doing whatever it takes to win. Performance-enhancing drugs are not allowed in most sports, but athletes assume they will improve their performance, which helps their team win and keeps fans happy. Fights in hockey will be, according to the rule book, penalized, but this deviance is assumed to be wanted by fans and teammates as a sign of loyalty.”
The worst fans of all may be youth sports parents who threaten refs, yell at their children with popping veins in their necks and occasionally let fists fly. When parents exhibit poor sportsmanship on the sidelines, they teach their kids despicable lessons that seem to imprint on them. If parents are raising the next generation of sports fans in their own shadow, it doesn’t bode well for those who will be sitting in the stands in coming years.
We’ve lowered our standards as sports fans to where absolute barbaric behavior has resulted, if it’s done in the name of the right team. In 2014, two Dodger fans were sentenced to prison for the barbaric and brutal beating of a man donning a Giants jersey in 2011. The California judge referred to the Dodger brutes as “the biggest nightmare” of fans who attend sporting events. Not only was the beating itself bad enough, but the cowardly, knuckle-dragging perpetrators attacked the 45-year-old paramedic and father of two from behind. The only thing that seemed to provoke the Dodger cheering thugs was the fact that the color of the threads on the victim’s jersey were not acceptable to them. The victim suffered severe brain trauma, and will require long-term care and 24-hour assistance for the rest of his life, just because he committed the grave sin of wearing an opponent’s jersey to a Dodger home game. The eight year and four-year prison sentence that the 31-year-old and 33-year-old perpetrators are not nearly long enough (nor are their names worthy of the ink necessary to print). The victim will suffer for the rest of his life, because of these cretins, justice demands they suffer for the rest of their lives, as well. In a civil lawsuit, the Dodgers were also found partly responsible for the beating.
However, not all Giants fans are so innocent. A 24-year-old Dodger fan was stabbed to death in September of 2013 after a Giants game in San Francisco. What started as an argument between rival fans crossed the line drawn by civility with deadly consequences. Is a meaningless baseball game worthy of taking a human life? This senseless act of cruelty comes just three days after a teenage football fan was attacked at San Francisco's Candlestick Park during the San Francisco 49ers' 27-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, proving football fans can be just as deplorable.
Both participation in, and spectating of, sports events can have both wonderful and positive impacts on children and society. Competition can make us strive to make ourselves better, pushing us to heights that weren’t possible without such motivation. Yet, with a drug that great to take away pain, too much of it, or lack of moderation can have detrimental and devastating effects. We must ask ourselves, is the color of the threads of an opposing jersey worth all of this mayhem?