Blowing the whistle on rowdy fans

By Patrick Gallagher
October 15, 2009

Shannon Keough

Every football fan is different. Some are silent and studious, while others are boisterous or belligerent. Each is entitled to his own experience and to voice that opinion whenever he feels necessary.

However, is there a limit to the extent to which you express yourself? The question asked is how far is too far? Is it when someone is offended? What if there are children around? What about profanity? Is it too much if someone uses his first amendment right and uses some colorful language?

I myself am able to enjoy any sporting event, especially a football game, without ever having to use any sort of curse or profanity. There has never, in my mind, been a reason to use these words.

Every fan believes that they can influence a game by speaking their mind and giving input into anything and everything. But when a person decides to help the referees perform their duty with foul language, they themselves should be the one penalized because their language is not needed or wanted.

As a child I remember going to games and hearing all of this profanity. Yeah, ok I get it, that was a bad call and the ref is blind as a bat. But on any one occasion has a referee ever turned to the stands and said, “Wow, I apologize. Judging by that language, I guess it was a bad call and by provoking you to use those remarks I guess I should take that back. How about we forget that last call and we just go have a do over.”

No, that’s not how referees operate or in that matter sports as a whole.
This language is only hurting the game that we love and live for. The true art of the fan is not to find the best curse or insult but to help your team win by being that 12th man.

That means creating an energy that eminates from the stands. It means becoming part of a larger being. A mass of people unified, not in hatred of another team but in love for your own. Produce an atmosphere that can assist your team into winning, while also making one that is unmatched even by the deepest regions of hell for your opposition.

Help give the team you love that edge that they can rally round and will drive them to victory.
I personally have witnessed on occasions a group of fans do just this. They come together and directly influence a game. It is not with cruel jeers and degradations. It is with love and passion for the home team. By joining together and creating a swarm of organized chaos they cause more problems for their opponents than any single curse, taunt or heckle ever could.

I can acknowledge that it is written into our country’s soul that freedom of speech is a given right. This is a basic principle of our country and it should never be forgotten. A fan at any sporting event still has the right to say anything they please. So next time think it over before you curse.

Are there children around? What good will these actions bring? Will it change the referee’s mind? Will it solve anything?
Instead start to create something positive about your home team. Create something positive that will possibly help your team and will hurt your opponent where it truly matters, on the scoreboard.

So as you are attending this year’s football games and any other sporting event remember to think before you act. There are various other scenarios that this energy can be put into with a better and more productive outcome.

So I leave you with one final message. At the start of every Baltimore Ravens football game the announcer reads through a list of information. He goes through a list of emergency contacts and other general facts. The last is a list of proper fan conduct codes. The last message is important because it sums up everything into one simple and straightforward line.
“Don’t be a jerk.”

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Patrick Gallagher

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