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The End Zone Seat: Safety Starts with Fans

Truth be told, sports are really just a form of entertainment.

Fans attend a sporting event for the same reason they go to the movies or concerts. They are seeking some respite from their work or every-day life.

The one thing no fan expects when he walks into a ballpark is that he might not come out alive.

Sadly, that was the case when a father, attempting to catch a ball thrown into the stands by a Texas Rangers player this past week, fell 20 feet to a concrete floor in full view of his small son. The man died shortly after he was removed from the park.

This was not the first time a spectator has fallen from the stands at the Texas stadium, which certainly would suggest that the Rangers should be looking into doing some modifications to the railings to improve safety.

Ultimately, however, when anyone attends a sporting event they have to be responsible enough to be aware of potential dangers to themselves and others.

A case in point is the gentleman who very nearly fell from the second deck of the stadium in Phoenix for Monday’s Home Run Derby competition.

The gentleman in question very nearly joined the Darwin Award winners by standing on a table while trying to get some small advantage catching one of the balls hit out to him.

On his last attempt, he slipped and certainly would have been seriously injured if his friends hadn’t grabbed onto anything they could to keep him from falling.

There isn’t a baseball anywhere on the third rock from the sun that is worth dying for.

What in the name of heaven was going through this guy’s mind, or for that matter, the guys who were standing there while he was tempting fate, eludes me.

And where the heck was security while this nonsense was going on?

Not only was he putting himself in danger, but also the people who ultimately helped them. One of them could have easily been pulled over the railing with him.

And what of any unsuspecting fans in the lower deck beneath them?

What horrific injuries would they have suffered with 200 pounds of stupidity falling on them?

For all its reputation as a sedate, pastoral sport, baseball can be a very dangerous sport for the fans.

As they announce before every minor and major league game I’ve ever attended, balls and bats frequently find their way into the stands.

The potential for injury is always there, especially if you are seated down the baselines where screaming line-drive fouls or loose bats can come flying into the stands.

I will never forget one trip I made to a Red Barons game in Scranton several years ago. In one game, at least three fans had to be assisted from the stands after getting hit by foul balls.

Too many fans go to the game and spend the entire time shooting the breeze with someone rather than paying attention when the ball is in play.

Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, the regular TV broadcasters for the San Francisco Giants, always make a point about the extraordinarily large number of fans who bring their gloves to AT&T Park.

They correctly point out that not only does it make it easier to grab a coveted foul ball, it is a relatively cheap piece of safety equipment for the fans.

The next time you go to a game, enjoy the experience, but use common sense and take a couple of simple precautions to get home safely.

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