The recent news about the Fenway Faithful screaming racial epithets and throwing peanut bags at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is not surprising. Sadly, we have become numb to it. Numb to saying racial epithets and harassing pro athletes.
It has gotten worse each year, and there are no signs it’s going to get better. In fact, expecting a pleasant atmosphere at a sporting event is too much to ask in this day and age.
This begs this question: When did it become acceptable for fans to behave badly at a sporting event?
Please don’t say these players are being paid millions to take it and deal with it. It’s one thing to have good-nature fun, but it’s another thing to threaten someone or get personal with a player. There’s no place for this in our society, even if we live in Donald Trump’s America.
A sporting event should be a place where fans can enjoy with their families. It is a venue where fans can forget the trials and tribulations of their lives for three hours. It should be a haven for anyone that wants to escape from the hustle and bustle of our world. It should be more of a respite from our everyday lives.
The athletes are doing their job to entertain, but fans don’t want entertainment. They want their home team to win, and to them, it’s not too much to ask when they are forking up money for expensive tickets. That’s understandable, but fans need to understand if they are paying to watch the games, they should go to the game to be entertained, not demanding a team to win. If they want their team to win so badly, they should watch the game at a neighborhood bar or at their own homes rather than end up being disappointed at a game.
This does not just happen at pro games. It happens at college games, and even high school games. I covered Ridgefield Park High School athletics for the now-defunct Ridgefield Park Patriot from 2006-2012, and I dealt with parents and fans bullying referees and other high school players. Sometimes, I would hear parents whine about how coaches use their kids. I even got heckled for my commentary on their kids, which played a role in the paper firing me.
Again, no one should be entitled for that type of abuse, especially at a high school game.
It is a reflection of what we are in society. We live in a world where people are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, ungrateful, unforgiving, conceited, treacherous and conceited. We love what is bad as good and what is good as bad. We are so cynical that we stop enjoying the finer things of sports. The problem starts and ends with us.
Yes, athletes haven’t done much to improve fan relations or earn trust. Still, their job is to entertain. We should not be putting them on a pedestal or idolizing them when they are flawed people just like any of us. We shouldn’t be having relationships with them when they are here to perform and do their job.
We ask way too much of our athletes, and that’s why we behave the way we behave.
To use alcohol as a reason for fans to act out of control is an excuse. Sorry, but this doesn’t give anyone the license to act like a lout even if he or she is drunk. It’s hard to be out of control even if he or she has a few drinks. Besides banning beer at games won’t change since fans can be drunk at tailgating before the games start.
It’s on us to do better. We need to have a proper prospective of what going to games should be about. We have to learn how to conduct ourselves in a civilized manner at all times. Until we develop a loving attitude anytime and anywhere, we are going to see the same nonsense at any sporting events.
It was great to see the Red Sox fans give Jones a standing ovation on Tuesday night, but it’s going to mean nothing if fans revert back to harassing athletes next day or few days later. There shouldn’t be awareness on how to behave in this day and age.
Don’t expect any changes anytime soon, if not ever. We haven’t ended racism, bullying and domestic violence, so why should fan decorum actually happen?
What type of world are we living when all of this is acceptable?