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Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Sports Fan Gone Wild
Pitcher Arrested After Oakland Brawl
I'm sure most of you have heard about this one by now...

Last night, Texas Ranger's reliever Frank Francisco threw a folding chair into the stands in the late goings of a game between the Rangers and the Oakland Athletics. He hit two spectators in the head, causing one female fan to have a broken nose.

Now, I'm not here to defend the pitcher. Throwing a folding chair into the stands wasn't the smartest thing in the world. But how much you wanna bet some of these fans provoked him just a bit?

Not exactly behaving like good sports, are they?

When you go to a game, you certainly have the right to cheer for your team, scream your lungs out, clap, make noise, boo your team, etc. Heck, I think you've even got the right to boo the other team as they come on the field or even engage in some good natured mocking in the stands. For example, a couple of years ago, at a UT/Florida game in Neyland, the crowd would break out into cheers of "Errrrrrrrrrrrric! Errrrrrrrrrrrric!" for then player Eric Rhett, who had made some disparraging comments about the Vols in the papers. But, this was not a personal attack. We didn't call use profanity, we didn't bring up facts about his family, etc. We heckled him a bit. And it wasn't a persistent attack on him.

But what you don't have the right to do is be ugly. I think that verbally abusing the other team is out. Using "colorful metaphors" as Spock puts it in Star Trek IV has no place. (OK, maybe the occasionally "crap!" when your team makes a bad play). Also, like the beer commerical says, "Know when to say when." There's a line between loving your team and pulling for them and being overboard.

Let me say this...as a UT fan, I am not a big fan of Alabama or Florida. When it comes down to it, if UT is playing them in anything, I want the Vols to win. I will cheer for the Vols to win and be happy if they do. (OK, eccstatic if they do). But that doesn't mean I wish ill upon their fans. I've been to a game in Alabama, wearing my orange and white and treated with respect. After one defeat to Bama during my time at UT, some friends and I saw some Bama fans and congratulated them on winning and we said we hoped to play them again in the SEC Championship Game. We didn't threaten the fans, stalk the players, etc. We behaved like sportsmen. I like people who are Alabama and Florida fans...it's just one Saturday in the fall, we are gonna disagree on who should win. Hopefully, I'm right, but it doesn't matter in the long run.

See, I've been on the other side of ugly fans. Sorry, Georgia fans, but I'm gonna call a lot of you out. A lot of you can't handle losing and you sure can't handle winning. I lived in Augusta, GA last year during the annual Tennessee/Georgia skirmish. On the day of the Georgia game, I wore my usual orange and white, drove around in my car with the large power T on it, etc. I was verbally abused left and right--by people who went out of their way to tell me where I could go and what I could do when I got there. One or two, I figured--you got those in every crowd. But when it got into more than ten people doing this and something is wrong. Now, don't get me wrong--I knew some good UGA fans who only good-naturedly harrassed me after the game, but they were the exception, not the rule. The worst was driving home from work a day or two after the game, when a car is streaking up behind, blowing his horn, flashing his lights. I stop at a light, thinking my muffler is dragging behind the car since this guy is trying so hard to get my attention. Nope...turns out he wants to give me the double finger-salute and point to his UGA hat.

Yeah, really classy there, man.

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at here is the idea that we should all remember that while we love our team and we have the right to root for them, we don't have the right to be ugly about it. In a lot of ways, this type of action is exactly what Barry over at Inn of the Last Home talks about in his great post earlier this week. In fact, his post almost seems prophetic since it was posted before this whole ugly incident occurred.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/14/2004 04:48:00 PM | |
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