I guess that’s why they call them ‘fanatics’

Published 8:26 am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sometimes the difference between a sports “fan” and a sports “fanatic” is more than just four letters.

This past weekend was certainly not a good one, for a variety of sporting fanbases. First, Atlanta Braves fans showed their frustration with an awful call in the MLB wild-card game against the St. Louis Cardinals, scattering trash onto Turner Field and forcing a delay that lasted 18 minutes before the Braves ultimately lost, 6-3.

The next day, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray arrived home to find his home toilet-papered and egged, likely from angry Bulldogs fans disappointed with their team’s 35-7 loss at South Carolina.

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Then on Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs’ fans earned national disdain after many of the people in attendance cheered an injury to Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who has played poorly this season.

Three days, three examples of sporting fan bases that might have let their emotions get a little too high.

Let me start by saying that I love sports, and believe that seeing a live sporting event is one of the most entertaining ways to spend a day. However, it is disappointing when the sports fans act in a way that casts a bad light on their cities and schools. Yes, it is fair to say that not everyone at Turner Field threw trash, and not every Georgia fan egged Murray’s house, and not every Chiefs fan cheered Cassel’s injury. But a neutral observer won’t see it that way, they’ll say: “There goes those idiot fans again, typical of redneck people in the South.”

Documentaries have been made about the passion of college-football fans, especially the fans of schools in the SEC. For the most part, that passion is a wonderful thing, adding to the atmosphere and home-field experience that makes a college-football Saturday so special. However, every so often it seems like fans think their ticket offers them carte blanche to act out in any way they want.

I’m especially disappointed when college-football fans lose their cool. Yes, the players are getting rewarded (through scholarships) to attend school and play football. But they’re still just young adults, who are going to make mistakes. I find booing professionals much more palatable; after all, they are getting paid handsomely to perform for the audience. But even then, I draw the line at doing something as disgusting as cheering when a player gets injured.

I just wish that sports fans would relax and enjoy the game. I’m not so naive as to spout a platitude like, “it’s just a game and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.” After all, I do live and die with my favorite teams, and I have certainly booed or shouted phrases like “I’m blind, I’m deaf, I want to be a ref!” But that emotion and passion shouldn’t cross the line into violence or rudeness.