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 14, 2009 1:55 pm
As we all know, MLB now decides home field advantage from the winner of the All Star game, set to be played tonight. MLB is peculiar in that it is the only major sport that decides home field advantage, or anything else for that matter, based on the outcome of its All-Star game. The NFL plays the Superbowl at a neutral site. Both the NBA and NHL give home court, or home ice, advantage to the team with the better record. MLB's method does provide more excitement to the game and does give more incentive for players, particularly those from contenders, to play harder and really try to win. I suppose the managers should be more motivated to win as well more than make sure everyone gets in the game. This is just as good, and better in my opinion, than the old way of alternating home filed advantage every year. However, it does seems a lot to base on an exhibition game.
Within the past few days I heard Bud Selig talking about this very subject on Mike and Mike in the Morning. During that conversation, the different methods of deciding home field advantage were discussed. They talked about the old way, the current method, and the potential of having home field in the World Series decided by best record. Selig spoke against this and seemed to say that it would be too difficult and too much of a hassle to do it that way. One thing in particular he talked about was the hotel rooms and transportation that really need to be booked in advance. He said that these plans really needed to be made ahead of time and due to this, home field could not be decided based on best schedule. What? Unless I am completely off base here, it seems like you could not really firm up your plans for travel and hotels until after the League Championship Series to begin with. The only way you could make those plans more in advance than that is if you knew in advance which teams were going to win the AL and NL championships before they happened. Doesn't make much sense to me. Even under the old plan of alternating years, you would not know what teams and cities would be involved until after the league champions were decided as well. Assuming the AL wins tomorrow night, where is the MLB going to start booking rooms tomorrow? Do we go ahead and book rooms for LA and New York, Boston and Chicago, or LA St. Louis? If this method makes everything so much more simpler, i sure don't see it. I am sorry Mr. Selig, but your argument just failed on this front.
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.