I blogged about this last June at “De-individuated” sports fans riot or why I stopped being a Lakers fan.” But now I find myself prompted to discuss the subject again on the awful news about Bryan Stow, a 42-year old San Francisco Giants fan from Santa Cruz, who made the ‘mistake’ of attending Opening Day at Dodgers Stadium last week dressed in Giants garb. A pair of gang-banging thugs ruthlessly assaulted Stow, stomping and kicking him in the parking lot after the game and leaving him insensate. He’s now in a medically induced coma and there’s fear he has brain damage. Unfortunately, there’s yet to be an arrest in the case.
Dodgers management remains unbelievably circumspect as to whether it’s a problem with booze or not. Indeed, owner Frank McCourt delusionally said at a press conference, “I don’t think it’s the sale of beer that’s a problem, per se. I think it’s the abuse of that privilege.” Officials have since said they will reconsider their plan to sell half-price alcohol at 6 games this season. Belated newsflash to Dodgers management: “It’s the drunken criminals you tolerate in the stands.”
To their credit, local politicos, fans, and the Los Angeles Police Department have impressed upon the Dodgers the need to reexamine security, their stadium security and alcohol policies and to take a different tack to crack down on the violence in the stands and in the stadium parking lot.
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
Attending sporting events stopped being fun a long time ago. I do admit, though, to a misguided exception a few years ago when I attended an Arizona Cardinals playoff. But I was quickly disabused of wanting to ever do it again by the drunk-as-a-skunk, slack-jawed guy who plopped himself next to me. And the game had just started! The fool was cross-eyed, rubber-legged and oozing beer from his pores, the personification of the drunken sot. He couldn’t wait to guzzle overpriced brewskies at the game and had gotten tanked outside at a tailgate party.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I remember attending my share of Dodgers games. But don’t recall any instances beyond drunken rowdiness. Things now have evolved from drunk and disorderly to dangerous criminal thuggery. I no longer remember when “Dodger Blue” meant something else. I know associate it with possibly getting whupped “Black and Blue.”
As a former fan, I knew all the Dodger lore, including the on-the-field fracas that occasionally erupted during hard-fought contests. Indeed, the most infamous coincidentally involved the same 2011 Opening Day teams, the Dodgers and Giants. Their rivalry runs deep.
The most notorious inter-team altercation took place 46 years ago and was called, The Battle Of San Francisco, by Jack Mann, Sports Illustrated, August 30, 1965. I don’t, however, remember fracas involving fans beating the hell out of other fans or what happened in 2003, for example, when a fan was murdered at Dodger Stadium, See “Giants fan killed in Dodger Stadium parking lot laid to rest.”
Writing in today’s LA Times about the brutal beating of Bryan Stow, columnist Sandy Banks: “At Dodgers Stadium, thugs are speaking for L.A.” tries to explain what can’t be explained. Another Times columnist, T.J. SIMERS, has also insolubly weighed in on the same topic, “Many fans don’t feel secure at Dodger Stadium.”
Given what continues to occur anymore at sporting events, it’s hard to justify the risks involved or the money necessary to take part in what’s supposed to pass for fun.