My thought is that it would be feckless to inveigh against the Dodgers Stadium attack of 42-year-old Bryan Stow by a pair of Dodgers fans last week in an incident that appeared to be motivated only by Stow's rooting for the Giants. That such an act of barbarism occurred over something as trivial as a baseball game is almost more imponderable than if it had occurred due to pure and random malice, and would seem to require no further condemnation.
But the incident did take me back to my own brush with fan violence, circa 1985, at Yankee Stadium.
A Mets fan by birth, I'd been running my mouth against the home team all game, until about the 7th inning when the guy in back of me had finally had enough and peppered me with a tirade so wide-ranging in its targeted demographics as to be almost egalitarian in approach. Suffice it to say that race, religion, educational background, sexual orientation, and choice of profession all made an appearance in a barnburner of a speech notable not just for its viciousness, but for the neat oratorical trick of wrapping all these things into one all-encompassing quality, which I have since come to define simply as "un-Yankeeness." Congenital, no doubt.
In the midst of this violent screed, I managed to peep out something to the effect that "this is America," and that our location within this geopolitical boundary conferred upon me, according to the country's Constitution, the right of free speech, which I believed included the right to publicly proclaim that the New York Yankees suck.
To which he replied, "This isn't America, this is Yankeeland."
I'm not making this up.
And so it appears that Bryan Stow, a paramedic by profession, who is now in a coma and is suffering from brain damage, who sent a frightened text message about the situation he found himself in minutes before attacked, was caught in royal blue Dodgerland with an orange and black passport. Wearing the wrong colors, wishing the wrong outcome, and most of all, relying on a wrong assumption:
That you can root for the other guys, that you can even imply in an ironic-yet-cathartic way that the home team sucks without fearing for your life, because, after all, it's only a game.
This sort of tribalism related to sports teams -- what's it all about? And have you ever experienced or witnessed violence between fans at a sporting event? Send your response to our Public Insight Network and we'll publish some of your thoughts.
- Main donation fund set up for attacked Giants fan Bryan Stow (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
- Our Prayers Are With Bryan Stow (Facebook)
- Dodger Fans in Support of Bryan Stow (Facebook)