Fans Gone Wild! When People Cross The Line


An imitation ‘Green Man’ messes with a New Jersey Devil in the penalty box. Photo taken by: Dolly Dolce

We have all heard the horror stories of the wild and crazy incidents sports arenas. Some of the stories are hilarious, others just down right rude. Even to the point of people getting hurt. I understand heckling other fans of other teams in your home arena, but when does friendly chirping cross the line into unsportman (er… unFANman) like conduct? There are some things that you just don’t do.

This was brought on by hearing about Josh Hamilton, outfielder for the Las Angeles Angels, and his wife. Hamilton left the Texas Rangers for the Angels this season. This was his first time returning to Texas to play his former team. His wife and children were in attendance to the game. He was met with a booing reception, and his family made fun of. Reports say that they were yelling at Katie, his wife, saying some nasty things. Cuss words and personal things that shouldn’t have been said in front of his children. Hamilton is recovering from addiction. That is something that he struggles with every day, and his wife is there supporting him every step of the way. It was said that the heckling fans were saying things of inappropriate nature about his addiction and other things, to the point where Katie had to call security. The Hamilton family was not bullied enough to leave their seats, and there were no ejections as a result of the incident.

According to a Ranger’s blog, Joe Nathan told Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Radio Network that Hamilton was “egging them on”. He was interacting with fans while he was on the bench. He said that he was ‘playing’ with them, and that the incident might not have been hyped up if Hamilton would have been quieter.

Now, I can see rude fans wanting to be vocal to Josh. They can boo, they can tell him he’s a trader, a sell out, whatever the case may be that fuels their anger. But first of all, you don’t bring up personal issues. You know these athletes as players. Not your neighbors. Personal lives are their personal business, and should be left alone. Second, you certainly don’t mess with their families. Especially in front of their children. Even if children aren’t present, that is something that you just don’t do. The Rangers said that security will not be an issue for Saturday’s game. They plan on proving the Hamilton family with a suite.

Another thing about families. You’re out to dinner. You see your favorite athlete sitting with his family, having eating. You: A. Leave the alone and let them have their family moment. B. Ask for a quick autograph and picture, then leave him alone. C. Pull up a chair and buy him some wine. A. would be the appropriate answer. Sure, they are public figures, make millions of dollars, know what they in for when they sign up to be in professional sports, and all of that. However, they are still humans and they deserve the right to have personal life. Now, if you happen to get up to use the restroom or stretch your legs, and he happens to walk by at that moment, that wouldn’t be so bad. We’ve been to dinner with Hulk Hogan at a near by table. Someone asked for an autograph. He told them that he was eating dinner with family and friends, and that if they were willing to wait until he was done, then he would sign anything they wanted him to. The person opted to leave. Martin St. Louis skates at the local rink with his children some times. I’ve even seen one of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with his wife and children there. I’ve said nothing more than a smile and ‘Hi’ in passing. There is a time and place for fanomization, and when they are on their personal time with their families is not the time, nor the place.

This one pertains to hockey for the most part. At a game on January 30th between the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins, a fan threw a hot dog onto the ice during a shoot out. Tyler Seguin had his goal voided and had to re-shoot. This could have cost Boston the game. While it’s widely known how much I despise the Bruins, this was distasteful. It was wrong, and whoever did this sake to a level lower than Zdeno Chara diving on the ice to draw a penalty. At game six of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, here in Tampa, fans threw their rally drums onto the ice after the game had ended. They didn’t wait for all of the players to exit the ice, either. Hundreds of the plastic missiles were launched onto the ice, stuck in the net, and even hit some people. I still have yet to figure the reasoning for that. The Lighting won, so it wasn’t a protest against Boston. It wasn’t even a protest against Nathan Horton for showering that fan with his water bottle, as most fans didn’t even see it happen. Not only is it rude to throw things on the ice, but someone can get hurt. The only things appropriate to throw down onto the ice is a hat when a player scores a hattrick, and the occasional octopus. During a break, of course.

Fans have made fun of players or yelled at them or messed with them when they are in the penalty box. This is fine with me. The Green Men are experts at that, they crack me up. Look at Terry Tozian, ‘the Bolt Guy’, who is known for going down to the glass when the door is open during the second period and yelling at the opposing team’s goalie. He’s great. Though personally I could never single out a player and make a hate sign or yell at him, unless it’s a Bruin, then I just pretty much hate the entire team, calling out a player is ok. (just not their families.)

There is the risk of injury in all team sports. While I admit I cheer when an opposing team’s player falls down, is knocked down, or there is a big hit, the second that I realize that player might actually be hurt, I quite and then I say a prayer. While I don’t expect everyone to hold hands and bust out in a prayer circle, cheering on an injury is just plain wrong. Sidney Crosby, love him or hate him, was booed horribly, and when he was injured, fans cheered like crazy. That is tasteless. I don’t care if the player is in a Pittsburgh Penguins uniform or a Dallas Stars uniform, you don’t cheer on an injury. You cheer when the player gets up and skates off of the ice.

Here’s examples of fans who sank who new levels.

There has been death come to athletes, death to other fans, and even a child. Fans have been beaten for wearing the wrong team’s jersey. Wake up people. It’s a game. It’s not worth it.

Dolly Dolce