Tag Archives: Sports Fan

What I’ve Learned as a Fan That I Wish I Knew as a Player

In my youth, I played quite a bit of baseball. Well, actually, I played a number of sports, but baseball was the one I was involved with the most. Baseball is one of those sports where there is some level of subjectivity. For example, when the umpire calls a pitch a strike when you think it’s a ball. Or, when you’re sliding into second and you think you touch the base before the fielder tags you with his glove. Of course, with instant replay now instituted in professional baseball, some of these calls are more likely to be ‘right.’

Switching gears for a moment: this past weekend, the Brooklyn Nets beat the Toronto Raptors — by one point — to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs. The Raptors trailed for most of the game and by double-digits deep into the 4th quarter. However, they made it really close at the end and, in fact, had a chance to win the game with less than seven seconds in the 4th quarter. The reason I’m bringing up this game and this series is because there were quite a few controversial calls by the officials. And that article only mentions the calls made in the last game.

When I was younger (and playing competitively), I would have stewed for hours after the game because of what I perceived as a “bad call.” I would have blamed the umpires for the part they played in my team “losing” the game. Even as a fan when I was younger, I would blame the officials of whatever sport I was watching for the poor calls that negatively affected the team I was cheering for.

After watching the series between the Nets and the Raptors, there were certainly times when I disagreed with the way the referees saw a play (and on many occasions, so did the announcers). Even still, as any good athlete will tell you, they’ve got to play well enough that a call by an official doesn’t mean a win or a loss. That doesn’t mean that a call from an official won’t disappoint you, but you’ve got to put it out of your mind and move onto the next play. I’m not implying that some of the poor calls affected the Raptors (or the Nets), but I’d be surprised if they didn’t even just a little.

With that being said, as a “fan,” it’s so much more enjoyable to watch a game and not stew about a bad call long after it’s over.

Behavior of Sports Fan(atic)s Rival Behavior of Religious Fanatics

A couple of days ago as I was driving into town, I heard the guy on the radio talking about some sort of . Given the , my attention wasn’t immediately tuned into what was happening. As the reporter expanded upon the story, I was appalled. The reporter proceeded to tell the listeners that one, , 42-year old and San Francisco Giants’ fan, is showing signs of brain damage after having been severely beaten by, Los Angeles Dodgers fans.

The history of violence involving fans is well documented, and typically, violence in spectator sports is more closely associated with football (or soccer for those folks in the US and Canada). The last incident of “fan violence” in baseball was in August of 2009, when a at and hit, Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder, Shane Victorino. The outfielder had some beer land on him, which is unacceptable of course, but other than that, nothing too serious.

Some of the more recent incidents of violence include a match between Italy and Serbia in October of 2010. The start of the game was delayed over half an hour. Once the game got underway, before they were ten minutes into the 1st half, a flare was thrown onto the field causing more rioting. The game was called and one team was later awarded the victory based on the fans that were causing trouble.  In March of 2010 during a game, climbed over the glass, into the bench of the opposing team, and proceeded to strike one of the goalies over the head several times with a stick. The goalie had to leave the bench area, as blood was running down his face, and he was later diagnosed with a concussion. If you’re interested, there’s a .

On the face of these myriad incidents of violence by fans in sports, I can’t help but think of the true meaning of the word fan. The word fan, comes from the word fanatic, which means, “. . .” In my opinion, these fans are definitely exhibiting “extreme enthusiasm” in support of their team. In the definition I provided, I left out five words that appear after the word zeal. These five words: “as in religion or politics.”

When I hear about these horrendous acts of violence committed in the “name of one’s team,” I can’t help but make the connection to another brand of fanaticism — religious fanaticism. After the events of the world was led to believe that these attacks were committed by religious fanatics (and that may well be the case, but I don’t think anyone can be absolutely certain of any of the explanations for what happened). Since then, opening up the or the to find an article about someone killing in the name of religion has become somewhat normalized because of how often it happens. Is there really a big difference between religious fanaticism and sports fanaticism?

If there is, to me, the difference is negligible, and I for one, think this is awful. Fans identify with their teams so much so that they feel compelled to harm another human being! I was an athlete and I can tell you, after the game is over, life still goes on. You go on and eat your meals, sleep, read books, and do all of the other things that people do. To some fans, when the game ends, their life, in a way, ends. I think this kind of attachment to sports is unhealthy. Similarly, I think the attachment to religion that is displayed by those who believe they are doing right by their religion by killing in the name of their deity is also a little bit too far. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the thinking that goes into their decision and prosper in the afterlife, but it is my opinion, that there is never a valid reason to kill another human being, (or one’s self for that matter).