Greed, Violence And Sports

There is a 56-year-old man in Baltimore clinging to life today because he was beaten inside the stadium of a Baltimore Ravens football game.

In Alabama, the first three months of football season are the deadliest months of the year because of DUI fatalities.

Not long ago, before a college football game in Nebraska, police had to breakup a tailgate and force 3000 people to leave, after arresting fifteen individuals.

In separate incidents at different stadiums across the country, a group attacked a single man and stabbed him to death, two other people were shot at different times and two men suffered irreparable brain damage after being attacked outside different stadiums.

A two-year old girl who was out on a pumpkin picking trip with her parents will live her life as a paraplegic because of a head-on collision caused by a man who was driving drunk after leaving a professional football game.

Philadelphia Eagles fans are notoriously brutal; so much so that in the late 90’s the club installed a jail and courtroom in the bowels of their stadium where unruly fans were arrested, put on trial and sentenced by a judge who was forced to be in attendance for every home game.

These examples are a microscopic sampling of what goes on before, during and after sporting events in this country. Football games, both college and professional are especially  guilty of this type of behavior. I’m not even addressing the rioting that goes on after teams win or lose championships, as if celebrations need to be intoxicated examples of boorish and irresponsible behavior.

Why? In part, the short answer is alcohol, though the parties involved will quietly move away from that topic because of the financial implications.

Now, I have been a season ticket holder for New York Giants football games for 40 years. For the first 30 years I rarely missed a game, attending well over 300 during that 40 year period. I’ve seen some pretty ugly stuff during that time. I’ve also attended countless baseball games in several ballparks. Also not a pretty picture.

When you take upwards of 80,000 people, many with testosterone issues, and you place them in a parking lot where they’ve been drinking for 3-4 hours before a game starts, then cramp them into a stadium where large amounts of beer is sold, considering there are fans from both teams at these games, you have the strong potential of several thousand angry and drunk individuals. That’s a potent combination and a recipe for dangerous confrontations in and outside of the stadiums.

Statistics tell us that those who tailgate are fourteen times more likely to be legally drunk during or after a game and that one in ten people leaving these games are legally drunk. So in a stadium that holds 80,000 people, 8,000 people are walking out impaired and many of those are getting into car and hitting the roads. Multiply that by hundreds of stadiums across the country on any given weekend.

And yet, very few restrictions are put on these individuals before or after a game.

Look, I love a good tailgate as much as the next person and even though I don’t drink, I don’t have a problem with people who do, as long as they do it responsibly. But if I want to take a child to a game and it’s going to cost me upwards of 250.00 for two tickets, another 30.00 to park and who knows what else inside the stadium, I want to be able to enjoy the entertainment in front of me without  someone throwing around four letter words. I want  to know I can cheer for a team without being attacked because of it, regardless of what stadium I’m in. I want a safe environment and considering the billions of dollars these teams and leagues are generating in revenue, they should be able to provide that for me. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

But they won’t do that because the product would suffer. They don’t want to alienate the crazy fans who buy $120.00 team jerseys and they certainly don’t want their beer concession sales to suffer. Both would be a financial hit to the bottom line, and regardless of the smoke and mirrors they place in front of us, it’s always about the bottom line. Restrictions, random testing, increased security, removing people from games before incidents occur, implementing proactive measures to avoid injury or death; these are all things that should be considered but probably never will.

So lives will continue to be altered, families will continue to mourn the loss of loved ones or face a future of long-term care and the games will continue to be played.

Because greed and violence is as much a part of sports as the play on the field.

Anyone who tells you differently works for a team or a league office.

 

51 thoughts on “Greed, Violence And Sports

  1. DailyMusings

    such a pity that this is what sports arenas and games have been reduced to. It is frightening to think of how many people leave those games impaired by alcohol- no breathalizer tests as they exit- which would be a perfect spot for the police to be testing people as they head out on the road.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. George Post author

      Right? You’d think police would set up random testing stops outside stadiums but they’re afraid of making traffic worse. Better they should allow people to drink while impaired and take or ruin a life. Doesn’t make sense to me.

      Liked by 1 person

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  2. Sheila

    It is sad because there’s so much to love about baseball or football or any sport when you’re out there with everyone cheering. It can be a great way to feel like you’re part of a community – as long as that community isn’t too full of drunken, crazy people. 🙂

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    1. George Post author

      You’re right, Sheila. I have amazing memories of games that I’ve been to and the feel of a crowd can’t be duplicated sitting at home. But things have changed dramatically in the last ten years and unfortunately it’s just not as much fun as it used to be. It’s a totally different crowd.

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  3. davidprosser

    Surely an extra dollar levy on the tickets would make up for the loss of profit from banning alcohol in the stadiums. Go back to the days where it could be a family day out and they could advertise it thus instead of always fighting the headlines about how many deaths occurred after a game. It’s supposed to be entertainment not a bloodbath.
    Hugs

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    1. George Post author

      You’re absolutely right, David. It should be a pleasant family day but it doesn’t turn out that way. I’ve read about people who won’t take their kids to games until they were older because they didn’t want them exposed to the environment or worse, injured by some crazies.

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  4. edgar62

    We have similar problems here in Australia with the addition that if you are one of the Sporting Elite – a Sporting Celebrity – you can get away with just about anything because the clubs will pay top prices for lawyers to keep their sport star from being made to accept responsibility for anything they do and that includes sexual assault. At times it’s as ugly off the field as it is on the field and the connivance of the judiciary does not help. We have one case going on where a woman – drugged to the eyeballs ran into dragged and killed a female cyclist. She was found guilty but through her lawyer has asked that she not be sent to jail for her crime because the separation would have a detrimental effect on her 15 month old son.

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    1. George Post author

      Yes, athletes are treated “delicately” here also. If you’re talented and can help a team, it seems you get third and fourth chances.
      The case of the woman who killed the cyclist makes me angry, especially the defense that it would have a negative effect on her son. What about the girl who was killed? What about her family and the life she will never live. I have zero tolerance for anyone who drives impaired.

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  5. Wendy

    The NFL doesn’t pay taxes, so they are padding that bottom line on both sides.
    Sports doesn’t make any money off of me. I got burned out in high school.

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    1. George Post author

      Lots of kids get burned out in high school..:) Yes they do get to pad it both ways and having drivers on the road is an issue for all of us. Something should be done.

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. Helen Devries

    There is booze available all day at cricket matches – six hours of play – but it doesn’t seem to fuel this sort of problem. To be fair, most people use public transport to attend the matches which avoids the ‘driving under the influence’ situation.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Lynn

    George, you make so many good points here. There much discussion about this very subject after a fan threw a beer can at the 3rd basemen during the wild card game here Tuesday evening. Overindulgence in alcohol is a big concern at these sporting events, not to mention all of the post game repercussions you speak of.

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  8. Ann Coleman

    I hadn’t realized the violence had gotten so bad! But I do know that the atmosphere at all the professional sporting events actually encourages people to drink to much, and does nothing to make sure they aren’t driving afterwards. As for the violence, I don’t think drinking is an appropriate excuse, or that it should be tolerated. But as you say, the owners of the teams and the stadiums don’t want to lose money, so they look the other way. I used to love going to a ball game, but these days, I prefer to watch at home, if at all. And that’s sad!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. George Post author

      I used to love going to games, too, buts it’s just not as enjoyable as it used to be. The crowds have changed, the mentality is different and you think twice before cheering for your team, especially if you’re in a hostile ballpark or stadium.

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  9. joylovestravel

    Wow George, this makes for sobering reading. I was totally unaware of any of this, for some reason I thought your sports games were more family oriented and nothing like this. We’ve long had these sorts of problems at football games in England, alcohol has a lot to answer for.

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  10. Pingback: rethinking alcohol | pistachio conspiracy #63

  11. Kim Gorman

    Great post, George. First, good to hear you’re a Giants fan. My two older sons are huge Giants fans; my two younger Patriots fans. I, of course, am Switzerland. That said, I for one am sick of how sports and badly behaving athletes are glorified in our culture – though I admit I had no idea how bad it could be. It goes right down to the college level. Believe me, working at a university, I have some stories I could tell, but won’t because it might mean losing my job. It’s disturbing to think that cops would look the other way of drunk drivers simply because it’s a sporting event. Then again, look at the tragedy at Penn State. It seems anything can be overlooked for the “good of the sport”. And it’s always upsetting when you’re out with your child and some dolt exposes them to things you wouldn’t want them to see or hear. Our entire country seems to becoming more uncivilized, and the mob mentality combined with drinking doesn’t help.

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    1. George Post author

      I’m sure your two Giants fans had so e fun with your two Patriot fans when they twice played in the Super Bowl not long ago. I know I did..:)
      Yes, it is disturbing and it’s becoming more and more difficult to not see this “sporting industry” for what it is, on all levels. I’m sure you have stories which all educators do on the collegiate level and I’m sure on the high school level as well. It’s a sad commentary about our society and you’re right, the lack of civility these days is disturbing.
      Thank you, Kim.

      Liked by 1 person

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  12. reocochran

    I tend to go to activities whether sporting or concerts, where alcohol and in the past, pot may have been smoked. This is because I like sports and music, especially rock and roll bands. I tend to assume that if I stopped going places where danger may happen, it would be like “giving in” to vices.
    My parents used to point out when people wished they could go backwards to the “good old days.” My Dad said people shot at each other across the river from Kentucky to Ohio (he lived in Cincinnati), KKK reigned in the south where lynchings weren’t always published in their newspapers, my Mom knew Catholic girls who were persuaded to lose their virginity (as a 30 years long high school teacher) by Priests. She had those students ask if their marriage would not be sanctified if they didn’t do this act. Times are more open but hatred is not a new thing, nor is drinking, carousing, and brawling.

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  13. candidkay

    There is a book–the name escapes me–comparing our modern society to the fall of the Roman empire. And one of the biggest connections is–that instead of solving their social and other issues–they headed to the Coliseum for blood sport. Ugh. Sound familiar?

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    1. George Post author

      Reminds me of the MMA fighters, which is something I don’t get but the popularity and fascination for this is off the charts and is something you’re describing on a much smaller scale.
      We are a distorted society.

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  14. A.PROMPTreply

    I have a confession to make and it should make you feel very good. I read this the day you posted it. It really resonated with me, but I didn’t come up with a good comment to leave. We went to New England this weekend to visit with our son and his wife. We arrived to our beautiful hotel and I spent about an hour just outside photographing the landscaping of this place. I really truly enjoyed their efforts and the incredible autumn colours. Next morning, we awoke to find beer cans crushed on the sidewalks and cigarette butts all over the grounds in the landscaping despite the fact that there were rubbish bins and ashtrays aplenty. Again, I thought of this post. Apparently, there was a wedding party in-house overnight. I guess being part of a wedding party and the subsequent alcohol intake that goes along with that trumps anyone else’s enjoyment of the property. People do seem to be getting more and more remiss in thinking about their contribution to another person’s experience just by being in the same place even if they don’t know them….not just at sports events. I do feel sorry for all the workers there left to clean up that mess. Heavens!

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you for coming back and letting me know. I’m glad it stayed with you…:)
      It’s a shame, really, that this type of behavior happens in a civilized society and that its fueled, in large part, by alcohol. The lack of awareness and basic respect for others astonishes me sometimes.
      Thank you, Torrie.

      Liked by 1 person

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  15. aFrankAngle

    You posted this the day after we returned from vacation. Although I wanted to read this, I never got around visiting, but your comment on my post today reminded me of this post. Thanks!!!

    Greed in sports is easy to sport. TV contracts, player salaries, merchandising, owner profits, and more …. including college football being on all day on Saturdays. TV setting the starting times is another great example.

    Nonetheless, fan behavior has you mentioned is uncalled for … yet it is tolerated … accepted … and yes, actually promoted through the blind eye approach. Great post George!

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. sportsattitudes

    George, your post is spot-on. All outstanding points. As a life-long sports fan…as well as getting along in life…I find myself becoming more and more disgusted with the sideshow of big-time sports as well as the on-the-field product. The fan behavior issue didn’t start here in Philly (as ESPN would have us believe!) but it is so true when attending a game at the Vet back in the day it was truly at your own risk. Whether forty years ago or forty minutes ago…I have never, ever understood the need to have alcohol at sporting events. It is too late to put a “cork in that” (bad pun) but I would likely be attending games more often if most ticket-holders weren’t having trouble holding their liquor. The wife and I did attend a St. Joe’s basketball game last season and it was a pleasant experience indeed. Sober, enthusiastic crowd there to cheer on their team. Boorish, rude behavior occurs among humans without any “fuel”…with it said behavior increases considerably. Sports – whether talking about high school, college or the pros – is of course not what it used to be when I was growing up. Change is inevitable. But most of what I love about sports is decaying and eroding…including sportsmanship and respect in the stands and along the sidelines.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. George Post author

      I agree completely. Isn’t it fun to go to a game, as you did at Joe’s, and just enjoy the event?
      Between the fans, the alcohol, the mindless broadcasters and clueless athletes, they are destroying all that I grew up loving.
      It’s a very sad state.

      Liked by 1 person

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