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The End Zone Seat: Fan Behavior Contrasts


It constantly amazes me how passionately people feel about sports.

Sometimes, this passion is a positive. Sometimes, it is quite the opposite.

The perfect example of the former is the huge and enthusiastic crowds making the short drive up Rt. 220 from Lock Haven to South Williamsport to watch Keystone Little League compete in this year’s Little League World Series.

For those who haven’t been following the story, the Pennsylvania champs drew a record crowd of over 41,000 fans to its opening game last week at Lamade Stadium.

In its two subsequent games, the squad hasn’t drawn under 31,000.

In fact, the number of fans—103,000—who watched the first three games was nearly the same as the number the Oakland Athletics drew to a recent six-game home stand at the cavernous Coliseum.

The televised interviews of fans and participants reflect the joy felt by all involved.

This is what sports should be about.

Years from now, the players, coaches, parents and fans will have nothing but fond memories from the experience.

The same cannot be said about the ugly scene played out in San Francisco last weekend during an NFL pre-season game between the 49ers and cross-Bay rival Oakland.

By the time the mayhem concluded from several separate incidents, there were three people hospitalized, including two with gunshot wounds.

It is hard to believe that anyone who witnessed these senseless acts of violence at Candlestick Park will have good memories of the day.

If any responsible parent had harbored thoughts about taking his child to a game this season, he certainly must be having second thoughts.

I don’t believe you can call the thugs who committed these crimes fans.

But they certainly painted all fans with the same brush, which is too bad because most people go to games to escape the cold, cruel world for a while.

Instead, the cold, cruel world came calling at the one place where it should have been barred.

This incident is the second time the San Francisco sports world has been affected by violence this year.

During the opening weekend of the Major League Baseball season, a San Francisco Giants fan was critically injured after a severe beating in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium.

Reports after the attack indicated that the facility had become a hangout for gangs in recent years.

When it gets to the point that the normal fan doesn’t feel safe attending a professional sporting event, it is a sad commentary on the sorry state of our society.

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