Baltimore Orioles: Line of justice in the stands
We all know the issues that the Baltimore Orioles have had over the years in terms of out of town fans. In fact, it’s actually a phenomenon that we’ve even seen in reverse involving the O’s, when they visit places such as Washington. Heck, there’s even been an orange hue in the stands in the Bronx in the past.
Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Nevertheless, the point is that we see more and more out of town fans in the stands in all sports and on behalf of all teams. A few weeks ago when the Baltimore Ravens played in Phoenix on Monday Night Football, there seemed to be a purple haze in the stands as well. (Yes folks, that choice of words was intentional!) I suppose that needless to say, visiting fans is only a problem if you’re the home team.
However I was interested to see this article earlier this week regarding a situation that unfolded at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte this past Sunday. In short, a fan that came to support the visiting Green Bay Packers had his sign ripped down and trashed by none other than Carolina Panthers’ starting quaterback Cam Newton. The fan then proceeded to report this “offense” to the local police.
On one hand, I’m not a fan of Cam Newton. While he’s a great talent, I think that sometimes the whole Superman act goes to his head. This incident personifies that; I expect athletes to be professional, not to do things such as rip down signs in the stands. While I do understand that it has to rub some athletes and fans the wrong way when they see their home stadium taken over by opponents, those types of things come off as childish and immature.
HOWEVER, I’m not necessarily defending the fan here either. Does it come off as any less childish to involve the police in stupidity such as this? I would go so far as to say that either the Panthers or the NFL should step in and reprimand Newton for what he did, because regardless of team affiliation you can’t treat fans (customers) like that. Maybe Newton felt disrespected; but you can’t treat fans in that manner.
But the fan getting the police involved is just as childish. Granted according to the article he claims he spent $500 to have the sign made. Maybe he did, I really don’t know. (For the record, I’d never spend that type of money just to make a sign to bring to a football game.) However let’s say he was sitting there watching the game and another fan accidentally spilled a drink on the sign. Would he hold that person accountable for the $500 like he apparently is with Newton?
I have no way of knowing for sure, but my gut tells me that the answer is negatory. That guy is all about trying to make a professional athlete look bad, and possibly even extort some money from him. Again mind you, I’m totally blaming Newton for his decorum in this situation. It was childish, unprofessional, rude, and just plain wrong. But there’s a big difference between unprofessional and illegal.
I woud submit that this is symptomatic of the litigous society in which we now live, and that’s unfortunate. All the guy did was go to a football game. I can sympathize with Panthers’ players and fans who might not have appreciated seeing so much green and gold in their stadium, but that’s not to say that guy should have been disrespected. However again, being disrespected like that isn’t criminal – in my book.
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At the end of the day, this isn’t European soccer, where players and fans routinely show boorish behavior. Again, I would argue that Newton should be fined in some manner for his actions. However speaking for myself I’d be embarrassed to know that I ran to the police simply because someone tore my sign and removed it. The police aren’t at games to ensure your enjoyment and pleasure; they’re there to protect you from true harm.
I don’t have an issue with the fan complaining to Panthers’ management about the situation, just the fact that he involved the police. However I would urge the Orioles and all pro teams to use this situation as a teaching point. If you engage with an opposing fan, you still owe it to the team and the sport to respect that person. He means you no harm, he’s just pulling for the other side.
Here’s the other thing; Charlotte, NC didn’t have an NFL franchise until circa 1993. That’s why so many of their games are full of opposing fans, because while some people do travel, that city is full of locals who grew up rooting for someone else. However I suspect that if you grew up rooting for a different team you still might be inclined to pull for the new home team (unless they’re playing the team you like). Speaking for myself, I grew up a Redskins fan, but that’s how I view the Ravens; I’m rooting for them unless they’re playing the Redskins.
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So with that said, are we to think that people such as the fan in the article are going to support the Panthers as well as his original favorite team? Probably not. In this age of people moving all over the country for work, love, etc, opposing fans and secondary teams are “a thing” more and more. If teams react the way that Cam Newton did, you cause more bitterness among people. But the same can be said about involving the police in something this petty.