The Truth Board

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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, April 8, 2011

How Far is Too Far?

Meet Bryan Stow, a paramedic and father of two from Santa Cruz, California. A die-hard fan of the San Francisco Giants, he took a road trip down to Los Angeles to see his beloved team open the season against their long-time rivals as world champions. A clutch home run in the ninth from Pat Burrell wasn’t enough grant the Giants a win, and after waiting all winter for opening day, fans everywhere were crushed by a one-run loss. As if that didn’t cast enough of a rain cloud over opening weekend, upon leaving the game Bryan Stow was jumped from behind by two fans in rival garb, knocked face-first into concrete, and fell unconscious. He is now in a medically induced coma struggling to retain grasp on his last inch of life. The Los Angeles Police Department said that the rival fans were taunting Stow and other Giants fans, and that the suspects’ attack on Stow was unprovoked. Did I mention that the attackers’ team WON the game?
Rivalry is healthy; in fact, it’s a critically important part of any good franchise. There is nothing more exciting than watching your team beat those guys you love to hate, and nothing more devastating than losing those bragging rights. With rivalry, however, comes a fine line, crossed all too often, between competition and barbarism. It’s definitely easy to get caught up and carried away in the moment, but being obnoxious and rude doesn’t make you a better fan; discretion is imperative.
I held tickets to the game played the day after Bryan Stow was brutally beaten in the parking lot at Chavez Ravine. As a season ticket holder at AT&T Park, I always see the game from the first-base line, so I thought it might be cool to catch a game from a different perspective: left field. Bleacher seats are usually some of the cheapest seats in the park, therefore, they attract a lot of people whose primary intentions are to get wasted off of overpriced beer and cheer boisterously for the home team. Baseball stadiums, or any stadiums for that matter, are not bars built around patches of grass, they are family environments, and they should be safe places to be. A lot of people in bleacher seats don’t care as much about watching the game as they do about harassing visiting fans. Suffice it to say, we were some type of fan favorites at game two of opening weekend. Fitted in head-to-toe orange and black, we were booed by entire sections of people in blue. “Giants Suck!” and “F--- San Francisco” were coming from all sides, but that’s the nature of the beast when you’re on the road. The line was definitely crossed, though, out there in left field pavilion when things started to get violent. Some people were pouring beers, no, throwing beers, (literally the entire cup) at visiting fans. Big guys in blue and white were getting up in the faces of girls supporting their team, aggressively hulking over them. When a base runner for the Giants was called safe, a guy behind me yelled “No Giants fan is safe at this stadium”. Poor taste. Especially in light of the previous nights’ events.
Now, this isn’t to say that all of this team’s fans are crude, obnoxious, or inappropriate. This sample of people is definitely not an accurate representation of the whole. This isn’t about singling out the fans of any one team; it’s about the difference between being a fan and using the game as an avenue for brutish behavior. Baseball is America’s pastime, for God’s sake. As citizens, we all have the right to give our hearts to a club and join a fan base that is blind to race, socioeconomic status, or religious affiliation.
In the true spirit of the game, both organizations came together and condemned the attack of Bryan Stow, while asserting that such contemptuous behavior will not be tolerated in either stadium. The clubs came together to put up a sizable reward for information leading to the conviction of the attackers, and fans are chipping in to help the family with the medical bills. Why does a paramedic have to suffer potential brain damage for showing pride in his World Series winning team, after waiting a lifetime for the title? There is no place for abuse, vulgarity, or cruelty in a ballpark. The best way we can demonstrate love for and loyalty to our teams is to rally when we’re down, cheer loud into the ninth inning, and stand by them through years of losing seasons. Die-hard fans would live and die for their teams, but they shouldn’t have to.

-Kelsey Laubscher


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