by Jordy Dwyer
Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, you no doubt either saw, heard or were told about some fan getting a little too involved.
For the sake of brevity, a ticket holder located beyond the left field wall at the Toronto Blue Jays wild card playoff game against Baltimore Orioles last week tossed a partially full can of beer at one of the Orioles that was attempting to catch a fly ball.
The poor tactic, and poor taste, didn’t accomplish anything — since the ball was caught for the out — except draw bad attention from the ballplayers, umpires, security and the media.
The aftermath also included a lot of fans and members of the Blue Jays organization apologizing for the “stupidity” of one individual, calls for the alleged tosser to face criminal charges as well as a major Toronto newspaper stating it would post a $1,000 reward for information that would identify the individual.
Since then, at least two individuals have been labeled as ‘persons of interest’ in the investigation, ironically, one is employed by the same news organization that posted the reward. Though as of this moment, there has been no confirmation of the identity of the individual that threw the beer can.
This incident is far from the first, nor will be the last, display of bad behaviour from a fan.
The only difference is this one was captured on a major national (in Canada and the U.S.) televised sports broadcast.
While it does serve to draw attention to an all-to-disregarded situation in sports – the conduct of fans at all levels, it will unfortunately not translate into any real change in fan behaviour – especially when it comes to those involving youth.
Having played sports including hockey, basketball, baseball and football as well as officiated a number of sports — some at a very highly competitive level — for many years, I’ve witnessed or been subjected to thousands of ‘less than intelligent’ acts of fans.
There’s been the usual insults, questions of parentage or soundness of mind along with the sarcastic remarks, not to mention more than my fair share of attempts at physical altercations between fans and either players, coaches or officials.
Over the years, I’ve also seen dozens of tries to get fans to comply with the pleas to ‘enjoy the game’ or ‘respect the sport’ — all of which works for some, but usually not all and sometimes not for very long.
Now there’s always been complaints and insults leveled on the playing surface or from the stands, but somehow back in the day, there was a sense of respect for the people involved and for the sport being played.
Where that has gone in more recent times, I think, is more of a reflection of how society has changed rather than how sports and the passion for it has evolved.
In everyday things now, from the price of a product in a store to the service at a food outlet to how they want their child to be educated, there are people that will find something to complain about or argue that their way is the right and only way.
That attitude is now so pervasive that it’s almost expected someone will blow up and do something to show their displeasure.
The tossed beer car is simply the latest example.
Sure, there are people that are disgusted, shake their head and denounce this kind of display.
The problem is it remains just that — with no one taking action on coming up with solutions.
Is there one? Quite possibly, though would anyone take it seriously or would the consequences for non-compliance actually be a deterrent?
Unfortunately, the pessimist inside has as much confidence in that happening as I do in sports being able to eliminate drug cheating athletes.
But that is…just an observation.
Jordy Dwyer is a reporter for The Ponoka News and a columnist for Black Press.