I’m a huge sports fan as almost anyone who regularly reads my blog knows. My mother is a season ticket holder for the St. Louis Cardinals and I’m the same for the St. Louis Rams. I go to a healthy number of games each year and it seems to me that boorish behavior is on the rise lately.
I could be wrong about this. It could simply be me getting older and less tolerant; although those who know me will tell you that patience and tolerance are not character traits of mine. I’m not one to put up with stupidity and rudeness.
I’ve noticed an increase in haters and shouters at the games in the last few years.
Anyone who follows a sports team with passion will know of “haters“. These are people who predict dire results and are happy when the team loses or a player fails because they were right. They revel in the misery of fans who want the team to succeed. They dominate the comment section of sports stories and incessantly call talk radio shows to express their opinion.
They are now not shy about expressing their hate, loudly and repeatedly, at the game itself. No longer anonymous exactly but in front of a crowd of strangers they feel it’s perfectly acceptable yell out obscenities and vile words at those players who have engendered their hate. They ruin the experience for those around them, by golly they say, “I paid for these tickets.”
I remember as a kid people booing a player for making a bad play. I remember sarcastic applause when after a series of blunders someone made an ordinary play. I even remember people shouting out things like “you’re a bum”. What I don’t remember is the vile, unadulterated hate that strongly overrides rooting for the team. What I see now is a larger and larger group of people who want the team to fail, the player to fail, and cheer only halfheartedly at success. They only seem happy with a failure that validates their hatred.
As for drunks, there have always been drunks at games. I probably see fewer of them these days.
The reason I bring all this up is that I had a pretty nasty experience at the Rams game on Sunday. There was a group of about six guys near me who were clearly pretty drunk but of a good nature. They cheered the team a bit too loudly but I found them perfectly acceptable. They were in body-paint which is apparently against the rules because security made them go get shirts. This caused one of them to become belligerent for a bit but he settled down quickly enough.
What was the problem was that others felt the need to crowd around them, to encourage them into stupid acts, and generally obstruct my view of the game. It gets old after three hours. I paid for my ticket also, I want to see the game and not be subject to random people constantly standing in my way and not paying any attention to the game.
The mere presence of these loud, drunken fans seemed to encourage louder and not so happy fans around us. If they can be loud and drunk; then I can be louder and more rude seemed to be the message taken. One fan continually shouted in my ear, from behind, for the entire game. I was four rows away. I can’t imagine being right in front of him. He shouted things that had no correlation to what was happening on the field. He was shouting for the sake of being seen and heard. Super annoying.
A hater in front of me kept shouting out nasty comments at our quarterback, Sam Bradford, who has not had a great season. The hater really drew fuel from the drunks and was hand slapping with them continuously. I’m not exactly a Germaphobe (technically mysophobia) but there are lines I won’t cross and high-fives with ushers (who have touched hundreds of strangers) and people who are clearly drunk and have probably urinated on their hands is one of them. Anyway, we put the game away with a late touchdown pass from Bradford and the hater, who has been bashing Bradford all game, is slapping high-fives with everyone around and I’m not going to do it. So now he’s mumbling and claiming I snubbed his greasy, likely urine-covered, hating, hand.
As he’s walking away he calls me an asshole. I’m pretty grumpy at this point. I paid $200 for my two seats and have essentially had my eardrums, sensibilities, and view harassed for three hours. I tell him to fornicate with himself. He keeps walking but it could have gotten ugly.
I do think people have the right to cheer loudly at a game and to boo sub-par efforts. I just think that at some point the rights of the fans around you dictate you mollify your behavior. I’m not opposed to standing and cheering the team, which forces others nearby to stand, but I think standing at inappropriate moments and for long periods of time is rude. That blocking the view of others wrong.
If someone doesn’t want to touch you then why do you care? People are looking for a reason to be angry, maybe they’re unhappy in their lives away from the games, maybe they’re just miserable people. I don’t much care. I’m not a miserable person. I enjoy my life. I root for my teams. I want them to succeed. I try to be careful not to intrude on the people around me, verbally or physically.
Maybe I’m being overly sensitive but I’m honestly thinking about giving up my seats. I still enjoy the games very much. I love being at the game. The crowd, the atmosphere, the game itself. But there is a point where the experience becomes a net negative. Sadly, I’m getting there.
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