Hardcore Sports Fans, Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Yesterday, the report came out about Stephanie Gorman, a New York Rangers fan from Brick who was assaulted while leaving the Rangers/Devils playoff game in Newark on Saturday. This, on the heels of Flyers fan, Dennis Veteri punching an off-duty police officer and Iraq war veteran unconscious in Philadelphia during the NHL Winter Classic and of course, the brutal beating of Bryan Stow in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot following a San Francisco Giants/Los Angeles Dodgers game last April, which left Stow in a coma and is still on a road to recovery to this day.
All this, because of sports. What an embarrassment. There is nothing wrong with rooting for or against a team as hard as you possibly can. There's also nothing wrong with some friendly smack-talk during the course of the game. Why? Because it's only a game. A game meant to be fun, entertaining and family friendly. I've heard some people say fan violence is only a problem here. Thanks to bitter rivalries between New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia sports teams as well as the Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalry, the stakes are always high. The stakes being high are supposed to be a good thing. Being in the stadium or arena for a big game is exhilarating. The atmosphere is electric. When that electric atmosphere turns into violence because someone happens to be rooting for the opponent, it takes any bit of fun out of it. The same goes for watching the big game at a buddy's house or a sports bar.
What can be done about this? I've heard all sorts of suggestions, and the most common one seems to be: ban alcohol inside sporting venues. Unfortunately for those campaigning for this, for as long as beer is as big a money-maker as it is now, alcohol sales are not going anywhere. I have a better idea. How about: GROW UP. In all of these publicized cases, these are grown men and women. Sports serve a great purpose of letting fans escape real-life for a few hours to enjoy a match-up between some of the best athletes in the world. Save the fighting for the ones on the field, rink or court, since they are the ones who actually get paid the big bucks to win games. Everyone deserves the same chance to root for their team, no matter how much it irks you that the entire country isn't a Phillies or Jets fan.
What do you think can be done about this? Let us know in the comment section below.