Since SportsFans.org started in 2009, we've criticized the leagues, team owners, players and media outlets whenever they've disrespected sports fans.
Now it's time to call out sports fans.
No, not you. Well, not you unless you're the kind of sports fan who drinks too much and acts like a jackass at the stadium. And especially if you're the kind of fan who uses sporting events as an excuse to become violent.
Bryan Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan and father of two, is still lying in a coma fighting for his life today because, according to reports, two Dodger "fans" brutally assaulted him in the parking lot of Dodger stadium after opening day. It wasn't a fight; it was nearly homicide. All because Stow was wearing the wrong team's jersey.
Last Monday night, the Giants and Dodgers demonstrated what class looks like in uniting at the pitcher's mound before the game and condemning the attack and honoring Stow and his family with a moment of silence. (You can contribute to a fund that's been set up for Stow and his family here.)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt thoughtfully addressed the crowd:
You guys have rights as fans. You guys have the right to cheer. You have rights to wear the black and orange. You have rights to wear Dodger blue. You have rights to be frustrated when one team loses and excited when one team wins.
We're fierce competitors, but when the last out is made, that rivalry ends on the field. So please respect that, and in your excitement or in your frustration, don't take it out on another fan if you don't agree with who they cheer for.
A rare occasion of a player criticizing the fans. And justifiably so.
Truth is, if you're willing to beat someone to death because he's a fan of the opposing team, you don't really understand what sport is about. Sport is just an excuse for you to act out your aggression. And you're ruining it for the rest of us.
The incident at Dodger stadium is just the latest example of a couple of idiots ruining the reputation of sports fans everywhere. Far too often, the only time sports fans make the news is when they've done something stupid -- from the father-son duo that attacked a Royals first base coach on the field to the Eagles fan who intentionally projectile vomited on a young girl in front of him.
Google is filled with videos of brawling fans. There's one between Raiders and Chargers fans that is particularly disheartening. While fans cheer on, any one of the blows the brawlers delivered could have caused the same life-threatening injuries that Stow received.
The longer you participate and cheer on this foolishness, the harder it will be for sports fans to be taken seriously in the political realm. And thus, we'll all continue to be treated like passive consumers -- sheep in need of herding.
How are the leagues and the media supposed to take organized fans on topics like ticket prices, blackouts, stadium construction and work stoppages seriously if video of some drunken fan doing something stupid attracts more attention than the hard work of actually making sport more enjoyable for everyone?
If you're like me and millions of other fans, sports are a way to unite with total strangers -- even those from opposing teams -- and enjoy athletic competition. If that sounds idealistic, so be it. SportsFans.org is fighting to make sports better for the average sports fan, even if that means pointing out that, sometimes, we're our own worst enemies.
Brian Frederick is the Executive Director of SportsFans.org. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication and lives in Washington, D.C. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.