Fan Behavior at Sporting events

I was at the Suns/Rockets game last night, and the game was a total drubbing - The Rockets were the "rockettes" last night, and the "Solar Express" just railroaded them.

Anyway, this post addresses fan behavior at sporting events, and a scenario that I encountered last night that some fans all around the sporting world likely encounter at every event: (adapted from an e-mail I sent to the Phoenix Suns): (remainder of post is on the way...)

As a fan of not only the Suns, but the NBA, and sports in general, this issue is important to me. Reasonable people should not have to suffer at the hands of the goons and nut-cases.

There are two men in my section (one in row 1 on the aisle toward sec 231, and the other in row 2), Who have been pretty loud the whole season, but last night, they were totally over the top.

I still have an earache/headache from their screaming. Their screaming was totally out of proportion to the action at hand, and it was CONSTANT, and unrelenting. They also used foul language, and asked loudly for the crowd to do the same in screaming, "Everyone say ‘Bull****’ on 3! ONE, TWO, THREEEE! BULL****!!!!...).

Now, you are probably saying to yourself, "everyone uses that language," right? Wrong. My 3 year old doesn’t, I don’t, and I intend to keep it that way until he’s 18 or out of the house.

The game was an exhibition of the Suns team, much like the Globetrotters vs. Generals. There wasn’t a contest, and the fans were pretty quiet in general. I reported the scenario to the section attendant, and he said he couldn't do anything about it unless they were using bad language, which they were. He said he was "aware" of them. It sounded to me like he was trying to avoid conflict, rather that relieving everyone in the section from his penetrating screaming, and bad language. He wasn't doing his job. The guy in row 2 has an extraordinarily LOUD voice, and it can be heard throughout the upper-deck concourse, and even from section 106 when the crowd isn't excited/cheering.

I'm just trying to enjoy myself. The guy in my row (row 1) was screaming psychotically "YOU SUCK REF" the whole time I was there. The ref made one notable bad call, which, in his world, makes all other calls from 150 feet away horrible! These guys are insufferable, and they antagonize/fuel each other.

It's because guys in orange shirts don't do their jobs, (or are poorly managed, or have unwise governing policy) that less reasonable people than I will take the matter into their own hands.

Besides, I had my 3-year old son with me, which by the way, I would have written this letter regardless of him being with me or not. I don't think it would have been wise for me to confront these guys, regardless of my son being with me, because one guy in particular consumes alcohol during the game, and their psychotic behavior is an indication that they might respond violently (verbally or physically) to a "pipe-down" request .

Before Half time, I decided I needed to move, but I didn’t want a downgrade. I went to "Guest Relations," who offered to put me in nosebleeds, which was unacceptable to me, so they punted to Customer Service, where I was graciously given COMP tickets to section 106 row 10 behind the Rocket’s bench (nice).

My partner that we split the season tickets with, has been likewise accommodated in a previous game, getting the same seats. He called me after that game to tell me about the two guys…

In light of the Antonio Davis situation (only a spectacle because a player's wife was involved), this scenario happens in the stands all the time, the NBA needs to examine their security and fan-behavior more closely. Mrs. Davis should have been dealt with way before that situation escalated to that level. It is a good thing that the man she provoked was as level-headed as he was. Since he was level-headed, it polarized the issue on a national scale rather than "muddying the waters" (even though the media made him out to be the bad guy at first, along with placing most of the emphasis on players going into the stands/defending wife blah blah blah). We all owe Mrs. Davis a "thank you" for putting this issue of fan behavior on the radar (but not for her behavior of provoking a fan who simply made a request for her to pipe-down).

The orange-shirt people need to make friends with these fans that could become a problem, and to get to know them by name. Maybe even give them a coupon for a free popcorn. Then they'll make a connection, and will be likely to listen when their behavior is out of line.

I appreciated that the Suns accommodated me beyond my expectations. Yes, that makes me feel good, but doesn't solve the problem at hand. I'm not counting on going to section 106 every time there's a problem, if they're even available...

I won't just stop coming or ask for different seats. I like my seats. It's the Suns job to create a family-friendly environment, which they've pledged to do. Anything other than that is bad for sports.

The "abusive/foul language" policy is a pro-active safeguard against inflammatory language, and to be accommodating to fans with family values, which by the way, could be a reason that the NBA has suffered in attendance, and has taken action such as a dress-code policy.

Families make up a large portion of the target-market of sports in general, and besides, why would sports teams NOT want to accommodate as many people as possible? That’s why it cracks me up that many local radio stations run strip-club ads, use colorful language and expressions, talk about and advertise sexually provocative sites and stars etc. Some national shows (esp. the ones on XM radio) talk about sports, but they must talk about sex and sexually oriented content before the day’s over. It just turns families away, not to mention it’s just dumb business. The Arizona Republic advertises XXX clubs and videos adjacent to their sports page, or used to, which is just indicative of their "do anything for business" values.

So to all you local wanna-be big-shot sports radio guys: Jim Rome is the benchmark – period. He doesn’t need to talk about sex and interview stars of that business, because he has the best content and interviews. And also, you’ll do a lot better if you broaden your reach.

Go Suns! May the 2006 "solar express" ride to glory!

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