Posted on: September 10, 2009 12:31 pm
I sit and write this piece on the day that begins the 2009 NFL season. The subject of fan behavior at games and what you should expect when you attend a game has been on my mind off and on for a time and was brought back to my mind yesterday morning when I was listening to a discussion on what might be hurting attendance at NFL games in recent years. What was pointed out as a big, and very obvious factor, was the econonomy and the fact that people just do not have as much money to spend on going to games and spending on sports merchandise as they did a few years ago. While I do not doubt that this is the major reason for any decrease in attendance and revenue for teams in pretty much all sports, I do believe there are other factors to consider. One of these factors is the behavior of fans in the stadiums across the nation.
Over the past years, there have been numerous stories of extremely bad behavior in stadiums across the country. The things that immediately come to mind are a fan that actually got stabbed at an Oakland raiders game for the egregious offense of wearing a San Diego Chargers jersey. Imagine the gall to believe that you should heve the right to go to one of your team's away games without the fear of being assaulted or harassed. This is clearly an extreme example but I seem to remember that there were some people who actually defended the Oakland Raiders fans! Please, even if he was parading around then stadium yelling "Raiders suck" he certainly did not deserve to be stabbed. The other instance that rings in my mind are the fans in Philly heckling a Tampa Bay Rays player's child during last season's World Series. Again, this is something completely uncalled for and it cannot be justified.
For those of you who say, if you go to a stadium and cheer for or, god forbid wear an opposing team's jersey, you should expect to be tormented and harassed, I say you are completely wrong. I completely agree that there is nothing wrong with some trash talk, but I am talking about harassment beyond this. You should not have to expect to have food and drinks thrown on you. You should not have to expect to be threatened, or even physically assaulted. You should not have to expect to be cursed at for no reason other than the team you cheer for. You should not have to expect these things and any supposed fan who subjects others to these actions should be banned from sports stadiums for a minimum of one year for a first offenses and for life for repeated offenses or major offenses.
Also, having a ticket to a game certainly does not give you the right to engage in whatever behavior you want. Those people around you also have the right to enjoy the game that they have spent a lot of money to attend as well. Once you prevent others from being able to enjoy the game, your right to attend the game should cease at that point. This includes fans who believe they have the right to not only torment other fans, but those who believe that any action, including throwing objects at, toward players on the field is a right purchased with their ticket. It does not give you those rights. When did a sense of common courtesy and respect toward your fellow man/woman disappear in this country? In this "me" generation people are concerned about getting respect from others but do not seem to realized that that goes hand in hand with giving respect to others as well. This generation also seems to think that all that matters is what makes themselves feel good, or happy. I completely agree with people trying to be happy and feel good, but when your actions keep others from having a chance of being happy, you have exceeded your rights. If tormenting other people is the only way you can have fun at a game, you are not really a fan to begin with.
Other than the cost, I have to consider what other people at a stadium are going to do and what kind of behavior I should expect when deciding whether or not to buy tickets for myself and my kids to attend. When i was younger, I might have just said "well, you just shouldn't bring your kids." However, as I have gotten a little older, I realize that a sports event should be safe for children to attend without having to be exposed to some of the outlandish and overboard fan behavior that takes place in today's world. This is in addition to an annoyance tyo myself that can actually ruin a game. Drinking a beer, or even a few, during a game is something I support absolutely but if you cannot keep yourself from getting hammered to the point of being loud, obnoxious, harassing and violent then maybe you need to stay home and watch the game.
By the way, it is not just the away team's fans you are making miserable, it is your team's fans as well. you may think that you are their hero for showing those other fans that they should not have the gall to show up and cheer for their team but you are ruining things for the fans of your team as well. At a few games I have gone to, home games for my team, my time has been ruined by fellow fans of my team getting out of hand around me. You are no hero.
What would I like to see? I would like to see a sports world wherein a Yankees fan can wear their jersey to Fenway, a Red Sox fan can wear their jersey to Yankee Stadium, a place where a Chargers fan can wear their jersey to a Raiders - Chargers game in Oakland, a place where fans of any visiting team can wear their jersey in any stadium. I speak not just of a place allowing this, but a place where it will not bring about harassment, lewd, or assaultive behavior. Is this really too much to ask?
Posted on: July 6, 2009 4:00 pm
On this Monday afternoon, there are just a few subjects that have been on my mind today. I don't profess to have all the answers but only want to put my two cents in.
Posted on: July 2, 2009 3:51 pm
Recently I heard that the fans of the Florida Panthers have signed NFL player agent Drew Rosehaus to represent them in trying to get prices for season tickets lowered. That got me to thinking, do you think fans of sports could get Scott Boras to represent us in trying to bring some cost certainty and sanity for the fans of major sports in the United States. I choose Boras, or Rosenhaus, to represent us becuase of the obvious success they have had representing their player clients over the years. We need representation as well, and we deserve the best! The time has come to stand up for our rights as fans!
Here is what I propose as fan demands in forming a new and revolutionary fan expenditure agreement, sort of similar to a collective bargaining agreement. First, there must be a suds cap put into effect for refreshments at a ballpark. Let's be serious, 9 dollars for a cup of luke warm beer or soda is a little much. I would say, drink prices would have to be capped at 4 dollars per beer, 2 dollars for a soda. Food would also fall into our suds cap. Is there any reason the cap on a cost of a hot dog couldn't be 3 dollars, 4 for a foot long? Basically, concessions need to be capped at about half the price they are now. Ball park food is usually cheap food and should be priced that way as well. Some allowances on the cap could be allowed for luxury food like sushi, but the classics really need to be cheap. It should not cost an arma and a leg to but refreshments for a family of 4 or 5.
There would also have to be a cap put on how much could be charged for merchandise. Is there any legitimate reason why an authentic jersey should cost 200 dollars or more? We are not even talking about an autographed jersey but just a regulation jersey with player name and number on it. When you get right down to it, it is just a shirt, nothing more and nothing less. Let's say, the cost of authentic jerseys should be capped at 50 or 60 dollars, as that seems a legitimate price for a well made pull over shirt. It should be at least somewhat affordable to go to a game and by jerseys or caps or other memorbilia for your kids and family.
Finally, there has to be a cap put on the cost of seats at our sporting events. That would be a lot more complicated. But how about this for a plan. From what I have seen the median income for a household in the United States is about 50,000. Let's say that the per ticket price for floor, or first row seats should be capped at 1% of that amount, about 500 dollars. That is still expensive, put prices that are getting to 2,500 are just ludicrous. Of course, prices would decrease from there to let's say 10 dollars for the cheapest seats. Our games should be accessible to all fans at a reasonable price, not just the wealthiest of fans. Also, the days of corporate suits, who may or may not be watching the game, having the best seats have to come to an end. That's what the luxury boxes are for.
In return, we can agree to harsh penalties for inconsiderate, irresponsible, or downright criminal behavior of some fans, sort of a fan conduct agreement. To begin with, any fan who willfully destroys property, hence adding cost onto the team may receive a lifetime ban as to that team's future games. We agree not to complain on pasrt of those fans. In fact we will agree to a series of penalties to be levied against fans dependent upon the number and severity of offenses committed.
In several leagues, there have been pleadings from ownership for fans to support salary caps, or "cost certainty" for ownership. We were also told that once there were salary caps in place that the sports would be more affordable for the fan. Has that happened in the NBA, NFL or NHL? Last time I priced tickets or merchandise, it did not seem like these sports became any more affordable for fans than they were prior to salary caps being passed. In fact, it seems that prices have continued to rise. The salary caps have only ensured that more money goes to extremely wealthy owners rather than rich players. That is it. There has been no benefit to fans in terms of our costs, period. That has to change.
A side thought, with most teams getting public funding to build stadiums these days shouldn't they be even more obligated to make the sports experience affordable to the members of their communities. When they get public support, we are all paying for our teams facilities through the use of our tax dollars, and we should get some return on our investment as well.
Do you agree with me? Doesn't it seem that we are being raked over the coals by our professional sports teams who seem overly excited about getting every dime they can out of us while providing as little as possible. Maybe I am just a little grumpy right now as I was pricing tickets to a few games, but I do think some semblance of sanity must be brought to our prices.
Posted on: January 24, 2008 12:46 am
This is my first foray into the world of writing a blog. There have been some things that have happened recently in sports that have perturbed me to say the least. One of the big ones, is the Mitchell Report.
The entire Mitchell investigation has really been irking me recently. This is really for several reasons. The first has to do with the idea of it being an independent investigation. I do not think that either independent or investigation really apply to what was done. To be independent, you have to have a party conducting the act that is not associated with any of the parties involved. In law this is done to avoid any appearance of impropriety. There are good reasons this is done. It protects any findings from the doubt that automatically arises if you have someone connected to a party deciding a dispute involving that party. They may actually be completely fair, but many will assume otherwise. Next, it protects against having a “judge” make a ruling by things other than the case itself. In this instance, George Mitchell is on the Board of Directors of the Boston Red Sox. I am not saying, that the man is dishonest, or lied, but he certainly cannot be considered independent. It does seem suspicious that twenty Yankees players and virtually no Red Sox players were named though. Also, the word investigation seems like a stretch as well. As far as I can tell, the entire report is based on the accounts of two snitches, McNamee and Rodomski. To begin with, why in the world would that cost twenty million dollars? Also, these are two guys giving over information in order to get favorable deals from the government. It does not seem that there was enough actual investigation into their claims. They may have been spoken to on several occasions, but a good liar could keep his story straight.
I also have a problem with naming players in this report and thereby ruin their reputations based on this information. As everyone is well aware, it is very difficult to recover your reputation after these types of allegations. I bet that even if a player is able to clear his name, many will still hold unfounded suspicion of that player due to just having been named. It was seen during the McCarthy era when just being named a communist could ruin reputations as well as lives. Another problem arises in a player even being able to clear their name to begin with. It is very difficult to prove a negative. When Roger Clemons was named in the report, his agent or attorney released a message in which Clemons said he did not ever use PED’s, no relation to WMD’s I hope. After the naming, it seemed like the vast majority of people believed him guilty just because he was named. Many stated opinions that if he was innocent, he should be shouting it from the mountain tops and file suit against McNamee, etc. Now he has done exactly that, but it still appears from the online polls that the vast majority of people still believe him to have cheated. Whatever happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty? Related to this, just because a few of the named players have admitted to use certainly does not mean that the information given on all of the players named is accurate. After all, the best lies are partially true.
Another issue I have with this entire process is the simple fact that MLB decided that it was necessary to even conduct this investigation in the manner it did. I have wondered why there have been a few players in the NFL who have been suspended for using PED’s and Congress does not get involved with them. Maybe it is because they handle it differently. The approach by the NFL seems to be, have a testing program, do the testing, punish for violations. They recognized that there was a problem and they addressed it. MLB was on its way to doing the same thing, a testing program, and sanctions for positive results, or confirmed use of HGH, were in place. Baseball had recognized the problem and was handling it. It does not seems that having this highly publicized report really will do a lot of good in eliminating PED’s from the game. Now Congress has gotten involved in this mess. I know many people think that baseball cannot handle the problem so Congress has to save the day. To begin with virtually all of the information given in Mitchell is from 2002 or earlier, before MLB had any testing or any policy on PED’s. It doesn’t seem like the testing program has even been given enough time to even be able to tell if it is effective or not. And is this really what Congress needs to be concerned with? MLB is still a private enterprise, and is not in danger of failing. If it was in danger of failing, I could see why Congress would have a place, but such is not the case now. Even though Congress should be able to handle many different issues at once, if they spend a lot of time on this it is definitely taking away from tome that could be spent on things that are more of a concern to them and the nation. The economy, war, and many other social issues come to mind as problems Congress should be trying to solve rather than this issue.
I hope that this steroids era will pass soon and we can get back to enjoying the game without having to hear a story about this player who got caught doing that drug on a daily basis anymore. Yes, the PED’s do need to be eliminated from the game, but a knee jerk reaction is not the answer.