DIBIASE: Disruptive fan behavior finds source in alcohol

Justin Dibiase

As both a college student and an avid sports fan, I have the joy of being able to go to a local bar after a long day of classes and watch sports with my friends. Like many of my of-age peers, I use times like these to enjoy time with friends, drinks and the overall entertainment of sports. Once in a while, I find myself ambitious and venture to my favorite ballparks or arenas to catch a live game and all its amenities. However, as I attend more and more games, I am seeing a trend that bothers me considerably.

Most fans go to professional and collegiate sporting events to actually watch and enjoy the game, stadium and atmosphere; however, there are more and more people who are treating sporting events like massive house parties, and there is simply no room for that.

People go to sporting events to cheer for their team and be entertained. How would you enjoy your favorite movie being interrupted by an inebriated patron yelling at the screen? How enjoyable would that book be if your neighbor walked up to you and spilled their drink on chapter one?

I attended a Phillies game last week during an important game in the playoff race. While I was enjoying the game in the cheap seats, I noticed a family of three sitting in front of me. It was a mother, father and a young boy, who was probably younger than the Pat Burrell jersey I was sporting.

The family seemed to be enjoying their time at the ballgame until a gang of young men and women found their seats a few rows behind them. It didn’t take long for the young crowd to display brash and wild behavior. With obscenities being dished out quicker than hot dogs on dollar dog night, the family did not waste any time leaving its seats. Despite the group’s ridiculous behavior, I remained in my seat; that is until I received a cold beer shower down my back.

Despite my displeasure with my then-soaked shirt, I would not let that ruin my night. However, what did damper my outlook on the game was that young boy who sat in front of me and was forced to listen to the drunken partiers behind me.

A professional sports arena is not the place for a party. I thoroughly enjoy and encourage tailgating and having a great time at a game; but when I see a fight break out in the stands or a fan throw a hot dog onto the field, I can only shake my head in disappointment.

How can anyone enjoy a sporting event if they can’t remember it ever happening? It’s always relaxing to enjoy a few cold ones at a game, but overindulging is a slap in the face of sports. Are games so boring that fans need to drink so heavily that they can’t decipher between the men’s and women’s bathrooms? If you think so, take the party to your local watering hole where you can’t disrupt little Johnny from enjoying the first baseball game of his life.

On April 4, 2007, the Phillies opened their doors to College Night. This promotion offered discounted ticket prices to college students. What was thought to be a clever marketing scheme turned out to be a nightmare of an event. Nick Pitts of “The Loquitor” described the atmosphere best, saying, “It was just a big 500-level drunken dollar dog fight. People threw hot dogs on the field and cursed at the not-so-intimidating ballpark security guards. None of the college crowd really looked like they were there to watch the game but rather to just get totally hammered.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported over 150 arrests for underage drinking, and many season ticket holders expressed their fear of the 35,000-plus college students that packed Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have since pulled College Night from its promotional schedule, yet droves of disruptive fans continue to infest professional sporting events across the country. The constant complaints from loyal fans have caught the eye of some organizations.

Some baseball teams have attacked the problem, while others remain inactive in the matter. The New York Yankees offered family friendly seating sections in the outfield bleechers and other clearly specified locations where alcohol was not served in their old stadium. This obvious alternative has not been discovered by most professional sport organizations. As a result, the drinking and obnoxious fan behavior continues.

The bottom line is this: Sporting events are and should be fun. While this is true, fans should save their wild side for places where that kind of behavior is commonplace. Being a fan not only means rooting for your respective team, but it also means representing them through your actions – good, bad or sometimes ugly.

———————-

Justin DiBiase is a senior civil engineering major from Franklinville, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]