What is Sports Behavior? Is it Healthy?
Typically, but not in all cases, we are fans of the teams that we grew up watching. These are our hometown heros, the players and teams we wish nothing but the best for. How could we not, they are representing our home afterall. The place we love is written right there on their chest. Anyone that speaks poorly of them, should be punished?
When we go to a sporting event live, we cheer when our team does well and "groan" when the other team does better. This is natural and instinctual behavior. When does it cross the line though? Is it healthy and ok to yell obscenities at an opposing fan? Is this is in good nature to call someone "less than" if they have a differing opinion?
Right or wrong (it's wrong) this is the world we have come to expect. I'm here to write about while we know this as the modern natural expectation at a sporting event... it shouldn't be. Not anymore at least. At hockey arenas (I've been to many) I can say that I've seen fights, yelling matches, and parents covering their kids ears because of a profanity laden patron nearby.
The arguement for is simple, it's a free country and I paid for the seat hence I can say and do whatever I want. True and not true from my perspective. Our country (and world) has gone through so much in the past few years with all types of movements towards equality and harmonious resolutions. Can not the sports world also take a step in the right direction?
Our own Blackhawks are extremely guilty in multiple infractions when it comes to doing what is right. The fanbase has suffered through this. I, for one, was embarrassed to wear any logos for a long time as we dealt (both as a franchise and as a fan) with the ramifications of the past. I was however open to having calm and level headed conversations with informed fans. I grew my fandom through these enlightening interactions.
I was going to post some arguements, fights, and contrasting fan arguements here in video format or through screen grabs via social media. I have decided not to as the fights are quite graphic and the language is not appropriate. That, more or less, is the point here: none of these actions are understandable to me. They should be condemned for what they are: pointless.
If we want to grow as sports fans, we need to move forward. Let us learn from what we've seen in the past and make sporting events, with fans of conflicting views and opinions, a place where we can both learn from one another or a place where we can politely disagree. For me at least, I love learning about a point of view from a fan of an opposition. It is likely not one I would have known since I don't live there after all. I am now a more studious fan of the sport in which I love, right?
I certainly will be the first to admit that a hockey arena is not at the forefront for fan on fan violence or yelling matches, though there are examples of both. To give the sport and fans' credit it's a family friendly event most games. Still, it only takes one to ruin an evening.
The NHL has an issue. It's a tough sport, one that has fighting still. Kids and adrenaline filled adults are in the crowd cheering on their side of the fight. Sometimes it's hard to discern that we are not apart of the fight and it spills over into our enjoyment of the event we worked hard to attend. Perhaps the fault is not with the fans, but rather with the way we still cheer loudest when a fight breaks out? It shows that when an arguement can't be resolved, the only way to prove your point is to physically harm someone. This is the message the NHL is sending out. They have made full movies about it and players have stayed employed because their skill is being an enforcer (less so today though).
Gary Bettman could work with Marty Walsh to stop this behavior if he really wanted to. However, it is a business right? Money. That's the answer to most of these questions. Fights in the stands or conflicts online and in person. That equals entertainment / emotions which then equals money spent and buttons clicked. It's ashame, but I can't end this alone. I'm looking forward to a future where sports fans don't have to resort to behavior from past expectations.
It seems Sebastian Maniscalco (Chicagos' own) was correct when joking:
My wife says to me, “Why do you look at everybody? Just do you.”
Sebastian replies, “‘Cause that’s what makes me happy. I like to be bothered.”
You can visit Sebastian at his website www.sebastianlive.com.