As Americans, we like to mock soccer fans. Mostly cause we don’t understand their sport, are too impatient to follow a game that doesn’t feature multiple scores, and are frankly not good at it. But we also enjoy showing clips of soccer riots, chuckling that we would never let such things happen in our stadiums. In light of the violent attack, presumably by an Oakland Raider fan on, on a 49er fan, I think we need to step away from those assumptions.
No it’s not a full-scale riot, but in some ways its more deplorable. The act itself is heinous in nature and inexcusable, but let us look deeper in a growing phenomenon in America of violence related to sports. Consider the brutal attack of a Dodgers fan by a Giants fan this summer. Or consider any football game you’ve ever been to. Or imagine sitting in a college basketball arena. In all these cases, unwarranted verbal aggression and lewd insults permeate the atmosphere. We’re all devoted to our teams, and it is easy to be frustrated when an opposing fan cheers in front of you when their team scores, but the amount of hatred that comes from that frustration is unacceptable.
Both Mayors of Oakland and San Francisco made comments about how they deplored the actions, and the NFL stated that they wanted their stadiums to be a safe environment.
The NFL has also been searching for a way to make games more appealing to view in person, at a stadium. Frankly, they need to improve the environment more than just adding NFL Redzone on the jumbo tron to improve the fan experience. They need to crack down on excessively drunk patrons, rude individuals, verbal abuse, and generally inconsiderate people. Some would argue that alcohol would need to be removed, but 1. I doubt the NFL will be willing to force out one of their biggest sponsors, 2. people need to be responsible about how much they consume and their actions after consuming alcohol.
I am concerned. I’ve attended enough football games to know that people are senseless and cruel – particularly at a rival. The answer is tough to come by, but with the growing trends of verbal abuse and actual physical violence that results from game days, it’s no surprise that people are starting to stay at home where they can watch the game in the comfort of their own home with friends who are quite unlikely to hit them if they cheer an opposing player.