I have witnessed two Yankee games, two Panther games, five or six New York Mets games, a couple of Johnson C. Smith football games, a Charlotte Hornets (then the Bobcats) practice and more high school football games and Atlantic League Baseball games than I can count.
I also have a sports card collection is a result of 10 years of me opening boxes of cereal I hate just to get a specific card. So yes, before you throw this paper down in disgust because of a title and an assumption that I’m just a person that can name a single athlete if he or she has not been in a nationally televised commercial or that I think a free throw completed will win the World Series, I am, have always been and will always be a sports fan.
That all being said, there is nothing I find more embarrassing as a fan than seeing some of the crazy, idiotic and for the most part, illegal, behavior from a small percentage of fans.
From threatening players over a play or mistake — examples such as Mitch Williams and Kyle Williams — to burning jerseys over a player’s decision to leave a team — LeBron James, there are times that I wish I had the power of flight to tell those fans how ridiculous that they are being; at the end of the day, it is a game! These athletes have their own lives outside of the sport.
Yes, sports play a huge role in my life, as they do with any serious sports fan. Yes, I have cried tears of happiness and sadness, thrown objects and have had days ruined because of games over the years. I had Michigan State winning the NCAAM Championship. But there has to be a separation between sports and reality and a separation where the team or the player does not become the most important aspect of the world.
I became a Dallas Maverick fan because of Steve Nash, but when he left the team, my heart did not sink into an abyss. He was a free agent that took the best offer. Now we got fans out here that made LeBron into a Judas when he decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, despite still being involved in charities and fundraisers in the state of Ohio.
There were fans protesting and chanting Joe Paterno’s name when Penn State decided to take down his statue after finding that the late football coach had been involved in covering up his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky’s, serial raping of young boys at the school.
Again, these are isolated examples of poor judgment and the vast majority of sport fans are rational human beings. Still, any time we get as passionate for a team or a cause, we tend to prompt them up as heroes or super men. When they don’t meet our expectations, we feel that they betrayed us. This is delusional. No one on the Panthers team knows me and they do not own me anything; so to actually have a personal hate for them is irrational. It is the equivalent of actually hating James Earl Jones or Christopher Lee for playing villains in the Star Wars movies.
Now if a player, coach or organization actually does something shady or malicious, go ahead and dislike them. Athletes like Greg Hardy and Ryan Braun and owners like Donald Sterling and Dan Gilbert have been illustrated as either racist, women beaters, cheaters or spoiled brats through actions related to sports.
That does not mean they should have a literal target on their back, but compared to the goalie that missed that shot or the guard that missed that free throw, focus your contempt on real “class acts” instead of people trying to work in their job.