The entitlement of the paying sports fan. : ThyBlackMan.com

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


The entitlement of the paying sports fan.

May 11, 2017 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Professional athletes hold a special place in America. They are among the most visible figures in the country. They promote various products through endorsements in television, print, or radio. Being a professional athlete in a sports league like the NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball seems like the perfect job with the blend of fame and fortune. However, being a professional athlete also means constantly dealing with sports fans who behave as their name implies, with fanaticism.

The term “fan” is short for fanatic. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a fanatic is “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion”. That devotion is present during virtually every major professional and collegiate sporting event in America. The devotion by sports fans spills over into ugly situations at times as in the case with Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones last week in Boston. While at Fenway Park, Jones received racial slurs from some Boston fans and one fan threw an object at Jones. It was a terrible event that highlighted both the overflowing passion of sports fans and the ugly existence of racism that still exists in American society. Regarding the events of that night, Jones said, “I just go out and play baseball. It’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family.” It was a circumstance that former baseball great Jackie Robinson found himself in regarding opposing fans often.

Sports fans find themselves in a unique position when they buy a ticket to a sporting event. They have the opportunity to watch an entertaining sporting event while also participating in the event through cheering for the home team or jeering the opposing team. When it comes to home field or home court advantage, fans can really make a difference with the amount of noise and the type of distractions that they can create for opposing teams and athletes. However, it is difficult for some fans to know which lines of etiquette are crossed when it comes to attempting to distract opposing athletes. Sports teams give opportunities to sports fans to point out crude or unruly fan behavior by other fans through text messaging for stadium staff to intervene. Yet there still seems to be more unruly behavior by sports fans in sports stadiums than ever before.

There is an underlying reason why many sports fans feel more emboldened and entitled to act and speak more crudely to athletes than ever before. Sports salaries have steadily increased over the past decade so fans naturally feel that the amount of millions that athletes make should make them impervious to any verbal attack. Some people also believe that their paid sports ticket entitles them to hours of berating athletes.

Another deeper issue regarding sports athletes and sports fans is that sports is an arena where sports fans of various races can cheer or jeer athletes of various races. In most professional sports arenas in America, predominantly white crowds of sports fans have the opportunity to verbally attack minority athletes through the guise of distracting the opposing team as with Adam Jones’ situation. Other baseball players like C.C. Sabathia mentioned that they also have faced racial slurs by sports fans which is a terrible thing and is yet another example that racism against people of color happens regardless of that person’s status.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines


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