Fan Violence In Sports: Why?
Thoughts on all the thuggish hooliganism plaguing our stadiums
First Bryan Stow, now this.
With the latest news on what happened during the recent San Francisco 49ers vs. Oakland Raiders game at Candlestick Park - fights breaking out all over the stadium between fans and getting filmed and posted on YouTube, along with two fans getting shot after the game - this knuckleheaded thuggery has gotten ridiculous.
It's gotten so that I'm having a hard time distinguishing fans like these from the "firms" - gangs of British soccer fans that make a regular thing of looking for a good punch-up and brawling with opposing fans after games.
And forget about taking kids, who are the most impressionable, to these type of events - who wants their young offspring to see idiots walking around drunk out of their mind, or to hear vile filth coming out of their mouths?
Not the image that children need to see, I'm sure.
During the past few years, I have pondered the question of how and why going to see a game has become something not unlike going to fight in a war.
Before someone who may be reading this thinks I'm all pure and innocent here, I'll be honest: I have been guilty of being an absolute idiot while attending games, namely when my collegiate alma mater goes up against their bitter rival - I won't mention either of the schools' names.
While I never got into any fights or been drunk, I have done things like throw ice at the rival's mascot, earning me an ejection, and call a young lady a word that rhymes with witch.
To say that I am not proud of those shenanigans would be a huge understatement; to this day I am extremely remorseful of those stupid stunts I pulled. Needless to say, I promised myself to never cause trouble like that again.
That's a big reason why I've pondered the root cause of this foolishness, why fans who are normally Dr. Jekylls turn into Mr. Hydes whenever the teams they support are in front of them, particularly when they play a hated rival.
I came up with this theory...
For starters, with the way things are in this country and the world, people need something to feel good about more than ever before, to make them feel like winners even though they may be losing in real life - for as long as there have been team sports, that entity has filled that need very well in our society.
In fact, while the vast majority of fans have things in proper perspective, far too may other fans see their teams' contest as a struggle for supremacy , their worth as human beings on the line with every touchdown or home run made.
These are the folks who see themselves winning when their team wins, that they are worth something in the world even though they may have lost a job or have had their homes foreclosed, and see themselves as ultimate losers when their team falls short, feeling even lower than they already do.
I know this is so because I have felt that way quite a few times whenever the teams I support lose, especially to their rivals. I've realized that I shouldn't let it get to me or take it personally, but I just couldn't help it, even though I have been working on not taking losses to heart.
As far as these types of "fans" are concerned, anyone not wearing their team's colors is representing all that's bad in the world, and anyone who supports their hated rival is an evil akin to the Ku Klux Klan.
Let's put it this way: It is definitely not "just a game" to these people.
And since such is the case, it's honestly not that surprising to me that incidents like what happened to Stow at Dodger Stadium and that Raider fans getting shot at Candlestick have come to pass.
Of course this crap must stop, that's obvious and goes without saying, but as much as I absolutely hate to say it, as long as fans like the ones who beat up Stow and brawled in the stands during that recent 49ers game are around, I'm not sure if you will ever see this kind of violence end completely.
And I'm not completely sure that these so-called "fans", who are really thugs, will realize that it really is only a game and see that there's no room in sports for hate and violence.
But I do remain hopeful.
That's just my opinion.