Sunday, May 22, 2011

Relax. For Us, It's Just A Game

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Los Angeles police arrested a suspect early Sunday in connection with the brutal beating of a San Francisco Giants fan at Dodgers Stadium in March, a police spokesman said. Bryan Stow, 42, was beaten into a coma on March 31 in the stadium parking lot after the opening game of the Dodgers' season. Lt. Rick Stable confirmed the arrest at an east Hollywood apartment, but he would not release the suspect's name.  --CNN

I think I speak for all baseball fans (and sports fans in general) when I say it's a huge relief to hear this story.  I like to consider myself a passionate sports fan.  I follow my favorite teams on a more than regular basis, greatly look forward attending games, and lose my voice cheering my team on.  But I have never once seriously considered harming a fan of an opposing team (Ohio State fans included).  We may never truly know what events led up to the brutal beating of Brian Stow after the Dodger's season opener, but what we do know is that he was mercilessly beaten by Dodgers fans, and as far as we can tell, the only reason being was that Stow was a Giants fan.

As a kid, I only looked at pro sports as games played by really, really athletic grown-ups. But over the past few years, I've come to realize that it really isn't just a game anymore.   Sports in America is a multi-billion dollar industry.  People center their entire lives and careers around a single sport. Men lose their jobs when losing becomes a issue. Players lose their lives and their health when violence on the field becomes too much.  And in the case of Brian Stow, men can end up in a coma because a few fans took their allegiance to the team way too far.  Studies have shown that people are happier with their lives when their favorite teams are wining.  I can't deny that. In fact, I totally agree with it and have experienced it first hand.  The fall of 2008 was one of the most memorable for me in part because the Phillies won the World Series and Penn State had a nearly perfect regular season (thanks a lot Iowa).

Speaking of Philly and Penn State, our fans don't exactly have reputations for being perfect angels.  Stories of beer grenades, hurling batteries, vomiting and streaking have tarnished the reputation of our incredibly loyal (sometimes too much so) fans.  I find it interesting though the paradox this situation presents.  Fans who are often labeled as nasty and relentless tend to be some of the most faithful, devoted, passionate fans. So on one hand, they're vilified for their ruthlessness, but on the other they're glorified for their loyalty.  I'm not condoning the disgusting actions of certain fans, but I have to notice that certain fan traits that increase dedication, can increase acting out against opposing fans.  It's being able to draw the line between supporting your team and taking out an opposing fan that shows the sign of a great fan.  I hate to see situations like the one in LA with Brian Stow, and I hope this taught every drunken, amped up fanatic across the country to have some restraint next time they come face to face with a guy wearing a different colored replica jersey.

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