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Two Stories To Get Your Inner Sports Fan Boiling

Let me paint you a picture: Cardinals Centerfielder Jon Jay is patrolling the greens of Great American Ballpark when he suddenly hears some heckling coming from the PNC Power Stack area.  This cheering section-esque group of fans, The Power Stack Pack as they are called, has decided to make Jay a target because he’s an opposing team’s outfielder…half the fun of sitting in the outfield is heckling opposing players.  I’m sure you can imagine the harsh and horrific words spatted at Jay….but did the words, “Jon Jay, Jon Jay, you have two first names” come to mind?  That vitriolic chant–venomous as a Black Mamba’s bite–was the choice of the Power Stack Pack.  Obviously, the chant brought much horror to a pair of Cardinal fans sunbathing near the PNC Power Stacks and promptly reported the section to security.  Security asked the Power Stack Pack to calm down and chose a less offensive chant; telling the Power Stack Pack they were offending a pair of Cardinal fans.  Now, in a move only describable as legendary, the PSP made victims of the women and chanted, “Whiny birds”.  Clearly, the Cardinal fans were brought to tears and left…but not once again reporting the group to security.  The PSP was chastised and told if behavior of this type was to continue there was no place for the group a Great American Ballpark…

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I’ve had similar experiences with fans as this.  At an Ohio State football game, I was seated in the nosebleeds of the student section as the Buckeyes and freshman Braxton Miller–my boy–played Wisconsin.  Here’s a link to help you remember the game which was kind of intense…like camping.  During the game, my compatriots–my brother and his housemates–were accosted by a couple of BUCKEYE FANS who were seated directly in front of us.  As we yelled and screamed and clapped and whatevered the Buckeyes as they attempted to beat a team which outmatched them in every way, the two women in front of us turned and asked if we could quiet down.  Now, a couple of things the ignorant should know about Ohio State football: 1) There are over 100,000 people at the games, 2) about 48,000 of those tickets are obtained by students.  Now here are some things of note about a college football game in general which apply to Ohio State: 1) The games are extremely noisy, 2) The student section is the nosiest place in the stadium aside from the band section when instruments are being played.  When taken into consideration that Ohio State’s student section wouldn’t even fit in the University of CIncinnati’s Nippert Stadium, one could assume the student section would not be the place to go to seek serenity.  The women would turn around and ask more than a dozen times if we could be quiet, singling our group of four out from the nearly fifty thousand Buckeyes chanting…well I suppose the number is about 47,994.  Obviously our yelling was far more dramatic and I consider their accosting a compliment, because us four can be heard over 47,994 other people.  Her excuse for asking our silence?  She had a headache…

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To what ends do people hope their means will come in these situations?  There are a couple places, possibly none, one can venture in the outside world–meaning outside one’s own home–where absolutely every last factor can be controlled.  In a restaurant you cannot control if the kid in the booth behind you won’t shout his damn mouth.  On an airplane you can’t slouch into the lazyboy recliner.  And at a goddamn sporting event you can’t control a goddamn thing about anything around you because everyone else is busy being themselves–cheering on their team and heckling the other team–to worry about you.  If you’re going to Great American Ballpark as a VISITING fan and expecting your players to not receive an ounce of heckling–especially when you’re cheering on the Reds’ biggest rival, the hated Cardinals–you’re out of your damn mind.  If you meander into Ohio Stadium and waddle up the stairs to the cheering section and you expect to have absolute silence then you’re not only out of your mind and ignorant but only stupid can describe your being.  In all honesty, what does one expect when they go to a game?  If you want to watch the Cardinals play and not deal with Reds’ fans, Great American Ballpark should be damn well near the bottom of your list.  To think those two fans had the audacity to take offense to such minutia is offense to sports fans everywhere.  Should fans be expected to adhere to golf course etiquette at every sporting event?  Standing should be outlawed.  Yelling is definitely out, after all, I have a headache.  Fans should have to remain seated unless going to use the restroom or purchasing non-alcoholic Smirnoff’s from the concession stands.  Vendors can get noisy as well, so I think they should be banned.  How is this fun anymore?  How is this sports?  Sport is about competition and competition is being mortality wounded by people who expect to have their own way all the damn time.   Sport is being ruined by not keeping score, by awarding everyone the same trophy, by firing coaches for yelling at players.  I’m not saying The Power Stack Back should be able to yell racist slurs at Jon Jay or tell him to f*** off.  A coach shouldn’t be able to Mike Rice his way through a job.  There are extremes, and when the extremes are met they should be handled appropriately–being chastised or escorted out of the ballpark.  Youth sports are less competitive than youth spelling bees and now Ballparks and Stadiums are more restrictive than a the local T.G.I. Fridays.  If you don’t want to hear someone heckle your Centerfielder with trivial insults such as having two first names then for God’s sake sit in your living room and watch the game on TV or listen to it on the radio.  If you have a headache, please don’t sit in the Ohio State cheering section because it will be loud.  Sport is losing it’s competitive intensity and it’s–ironically–starting from the bottom up.  Kids are fragile because we’ve made them fragile and it has bred a generation of fragile fans who cannot accept “Jon Jay, Jon Jay, you have two first names” without offense and “Whiny birds, whiny birds” without being brought to tears.  There is courtesy and there is respect which should be expected when walking into a ballpark, stadium, or arena; however, you cannot expect to have everything be your way.

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