*This column was originally published in The Inkwell, and on its website.
To an outsider, a sports fan is crazy. They yell at televisions because “their” team is playing bad, have a win or loss by their favorite team affect their mood, and this is all because a group of men or women are doing their job, which the fan cannot control at all. Sports fans even “hate” teams or players, which to a non-sports fan is crazier than watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” every week.
We’re all guilty of it. I’ve said that I hate the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers as a New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants fan, but in reality I don’t. Will I still say I do at times in the future? Yes, and really for no logical reason.
Despite the illogical reasoning, when done right, there is nothing wrong with the intense sports fan. It’s healthy to put effort into something bigger than you for three hours and truly care about a team. When done wrong, you become a complete embarrassment to yourself and your favorite team. Over the weekend, there were two known instances where fans were example A of: “Don’t be that guy.”
Matt Schaub, quarterback for the Houston Texans, has had a season to forget so far. The Texans came into the season with Super Bowl aspirations, but instead, have gone 2-4 so far and the blame has been put on Schaub.
In six games played, Schaub has thrown nine interceptions, including four straight games of throwing an interception returned for a touchdown going into last Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams. Against the Rams, Schaub went 15-of-21 for 186 yards and no interceptions or touchdowns, until he left the game with an injured ankle after Chris Long sacked him.
The Houston crowd responded in one of the most embarrassing ways by cheering as Schaub was on the ground and had to leave the game. Ironically, backup T.J. Yates threw two interceptions, including an interception that turned into a 98-yard touchdown by Alec Ogletree.
Houston’s star running back Arian Foster called the fans “tactless and tasteless,” while receiver Andre Johnson said, “For them to cheer about something like that, it just shows they have no class.” By far the best comment on the issue was by the team’s cornerback, Jonathan Joseph, who said: “They gonna do that, don’t show the f*** up.” The bold Joseph is absolutely correct.
Can you imagine if one of these cheering fans had a child and someone started cheering if they got injured? All hell would break loose, and rightfully so.
The problem is, many times fans forget these players are just people like them. They play in these huge stadiums and we watch them on television and they almost become un-human. Fans don’t actually know these players and that creates a disconnect. If these fans saw their neighborhood friend get hurt they would not be happy, because there is a connection there, as opposed to professional football players who risk their lives to entertain us and make huge sums of money while doing it, and have zero true interactions with fans.
For me, I can’t wait until one of these players pulls a Jerry Seinfeld and boos one of the fans at their work and cheers if they do it bad.
In Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers, another embarrassing fan on a Sunday showed up in Boston.
Detroit catcher Alex Avila hit a home run into the right field stands in the sixth inning to put the game at 5-0, in favor of the Tigers. A Red Sox fan immediately threw the ball back on the field and I applauded that as it’s part of baseball tradition. Little did I know, the fan ripped the ball out of the hands of a woman who caught the ball and was kicked out of the game for racial slurs.
This fan was yelling racial remarks at a 25-year-old black man from Brooklyn. He wore a Prince Fielder jersey and the fan called him “Prince Fielder’s crackhead brother,” and told another man to “go back to the ghetto.” When the fan was ejected, the man finally said: “Bye-bye.” The fan’s response: “Bye, Trayvon.”
To be a serious sports fan doesn’t mean you have to an idiot. This guy embarrassed himself, and unfortunately the Boston Red Sox, and alcohol or anything else is not an excuse.
There will always be the fans yelling for players to get them fantasy points and at coaches, because they can supposedly do a better job. That’s all good, ridiculous fun. The best sports fans will be knowledgeable, and be a jackass at times, but never shameful like these two instances.