You stay classy, sports fans

Columnist Danny Nolan writes that sports fans should leave the fighting to the hockey players.
Columnist Danny Nolan writes that sports fans should leave the fighting to the hockey players.

The Kansas City Chiefs have been making headlines this season thanks to surprisingly dominant play on the field; however, it was the fan base that was making noise…a lot of noise. Chiefs fans generated a crowd roar of 137.5 decibels during the team’s contest against the Oakland Raiders, breaking the record for loudest sports fans in the world.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is this is the first non-negative story in regards to sports fans in weeks.

For starters, you have fan treatment of Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. As a result of a bad series of games for Schaub, in which he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in four straight games, fans started to display their frustration. They burned Schaub’s jersey, called for his job, and openly booed the starter early and often. Things got so bad for Schaub that after suffering an ankle injury against the St Louis Rams, fans cheered as he was escorted off the field.

Of course, this is nothing new. It was only a season ago that Chiefs starting quarterback Matt Cassel was greeted with cheers following a hit that knocked him momentarily unconscious. I don’t care how bad someone has played, that’s a classless move by Houston and Kansas City fans respectively.

Where Texans fans really went above and beyond was when they traveled to Schaub’s house, voiced their displeasure, and even took pictures. Berating a player on the field is one thing. Berating a player at his home is an entirely different one. This is a despicable act and, quite frankly, one that is reminiscent of a darker time in American history. This is the 21st century people, there’s a fine line between disapproval and borderline insanity.

Even after games have ended, fans have continued to act in a barbaric manner. Following the New York Jets victory over the New England Patriots last Sunday, a male Jets fan punched a female Patriots fan in the face. Video of the altercation went viral almost instantly, amassing nearly 700,000 views on YouTube in 24 hours. This is unacceptable. I have no doubt that this altercation was spurred by alcohol consumption and continued arguing, but at no time is it ever ok for a man to hit a woman. Period.

To be clear, sporting events are not stages for fights in general, regardless of who is participating in the fight. Too often we have seen fan altercations result in serious injuries. Los Angeles Dodgers fan Jonathan Denver was the victim of a fatal stabbing following a game in September. Denver attended the game on his birthday with friends and was attacked after a short shouting bit between at least one reported San Francisco Giants fan. This incident came merely two years after Giants fan Bryan Stow suffered permanent brain damage when he was attacked in Los Angeles.

In 2011, the same year Stow was attacked, the Vancouver Canucks fell to the Boston Bruins for game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Final at home. Canucks fans, following the loss, proceeded to riot through the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I’m not talking about the average championship riot; I’m talking about Egyptian soccer riots. The reports following the Vancouver riot are staggering. At least 140 people were reported injured, four people were stabbed, nine police officers were injured, and over 100 people were arrested. While other nations have had numerous problems with sporting riots, most often associated with soccer, it is not often you see such open aggression following professional sports in the United States and Canada.

It is fitting that this past week marked the ten-year anniversary of the Steve Bartman foul ball fiasco, when one of sports’ most passionate fan bases demonized one of their own for doing what every fan would do: try to catch a fly ball. I have no problem with fans taking sports watching seriously. Where I draw the line is when people are put in danger as a result of a false sense of dutiful fandom. Fans need to get it together, because right now they’re making noise for all of the wrong reasons.


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