It’s Just a Game

During my younger years (20’s and 30’s) I attended many sporting events.  I have been to over fifty sporting venues in four countries and the one thing that all of those experiences have in common is, it was just a game, nothing more.  So, last week when I saw the video of a New York Jets Fan punch a New Patriots fan, who happened to be a women, in the face, I was beside myself.

Sport fanaticism has existed since the time of Roman gladiators, to 1912, when Red Sox fans were ready to trash newly built Fenway Park because owner John I. Taylor suggested to manager Jack Stahl that he throw a World Series game so he could get more gate money during the series, which the Red Sox ultimately won. To a near riot in city streets when teams win a championship.
We love our teams, no doubt.  But at what point does the love of our team take us away from reality?  In all those trips to stadiums not once was I disrespectful to the people around me and never did I engage in a physical confrontation with rooters from the other team.  Because in the whole grand scheme of things, it just was not that important to me.  I don’t need to defend multi-billion dollar organizations in a physical manner and I should not expect the same from fans of another team.

Several weeks ago I read that a twenty four year old Dodger fan, who had just left AT&T Stadium to see the Dodgers play their rival San Francisco Giants with his dad, was stabbed to death for being a Dodger fan. That is just perplexing to me.  The worst part of all is that this is not the first time that this has happened and it surely will not be the last.
  • 2003, a Giants fan was shot and killed outside Dodger Stadium
  • 2004, a skirmish between players at the end of a Pacer-Pistons led to a brawl between players and fans
  • 2005 a Red Sox fan took a swing at Yankee outfielder Gary Sheffield while he was making a play during the game
  • 2011 a Giants fan was nearly beaten to death in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot, IN FRONT OF HIS SON
  • In 2011 several arrests and injuries were reported at San Francisco 49ers vs. Oakland Raider PRESEASON game 
These are just to name a few.  Let’s not forget the city of Vancouver nearly going up in flames after the Canucks lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins.  I won’t even get into the soccer hooliganism, that’s just not fair.
I love the local sports team and I root for them, that’s it.  I have never had a problem with sitting next to a fan from another team at a sporting event and having a healthy debate about who has a better team and who will win the game.  It was also not uncommon for me to shake the hand of the person when leaving and thanking him for a great conversation.  I never threatened them and they never threatened me.  I hate to break this to all of Red Sox Nation, the Yankees don’t “suck”. 
It’s just a game folks, nothing more.  We have been lucky as fans to see a large success in this area.  When the Red Sox won the World Series, The Patriots the Super Bowl, The Bruins the Stanley Cup or the Celtics the NBA Finals, think about what you personally gained from it, other than a few weeks of joy.
As you head out for a Patriots game, or go see the Red Sox in the World Series, or happen to catch the new season of the Bruins or Celtics, I have one bit of advice for you. Act like you’ve been there before.  Go Sox!
If you don’t take it from, ask my wife.

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