On the Bench: “Real” fans, take a chill pill and look at what you are doing

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Fans have always been one of the main pillars of sports teams. They support the team, buy tickets as well as team merchandise.They are an essential part of what a team should have to be considered a team. However, there are some instances in which devoted fans of sport bring problems, disturbances and much more along with them. These types of “toxic” fans tend to influence those who support teams to become reckless and could get them thrown in jail.

We all know of one or more of these “hardcore” fans of a football, soccer or basketball team. They want to show the respect for their team in as many ways possible. They have the latest official t-shirt; their computer or phone wallpaper is the logo of their team, and they are always in the loop with the latest updates and news. Alone, they are somewhat annoying, but tolerable fans that really love their teams. However, everything changes when you talk negatively of their team or they are around fans with the same type of ideology.

Such was the case of Bryan Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan, who was severely injured in 2011 after two Los Angeles Dodgers fans brutally attacked him after the Major League Baseball’s opening day. According to CNN, Stow suffered a 9-month coma and was diagnosed with brain damage. His attackers, Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez, plead guilty to the charges against them, yet they only received four and eight years, respectively. Although Stow was fortunate enough to survive this attack, others may not be as lucky. This case is just one of many in which fandoms were taken to the extreme and fans turned criminal just to “defend” their team.

These fans tend to be so toxic for others that it causes other fans to be aggressive as well. This type of attitude happened recently, on April 4, before a soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester City. According to Sky Sports, Liverpool fans attacked the bus in which Manchester City players were headed to the stadium. Videos of this act of violence can be found all over the internet and shows how irrational and violent fans can be.

Being a fan of a team in general is good and one of the oldest traditions in sports. The competition and the civilized debate of who’s better is also part of the sport. However, these traditions have evolved and now rivals are considered sworn enemies and they go above and beyond to try and demoralize each other. I believe this is caused by fans that influence those who are already hyped and need a little push to become violent. This behavior is mostly seen in the soccer world and in Europe and Latin America since, in these regions, soccer is the most popular sport and soccer fans are so passionate yet tend to be violent that historians have come up with a word for them, football hooligans. According to CBBC, Hooliganism describes the violent or aggressive actions of fans at matches.

I’ve been a witness to these acts of violence, vandalism and straight-up stupidity, and all for what? To get the other team heated and scared? The only thing they achieve is being associated with criminals and creating an atmosphere of unsafety for other fans. In Ecuador for example, there are two soccer teams that have the biggest rivalry out of the rest of teams, Barcelona FC and C.S. Emelec. Their fans have become so violent that whenever they have a match together it’s normal to hear news of fans getting arrested for creating disturbances, for carrying knives to the stadium and for attacking policemen.

Things like this shouldn’t happen and fans shouldn’t be worried that they could get beaten up by rival fans whenever they go to the stadium. The culture that surrounds fans like this should be reshaped to a more civilized one. After all, we are supposed to be one of, if not the smartest animal in the world, yet we hit each other just because we cheer opposing teams. We are better than this, and if toxic fans don’t decide to change themselves, then police and sports teams should step up and change the rules and state that this type of behavior is unacceptable, whether it is inside or outside the stadium.

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