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Calm down, or just stay home? Valley League cracking down on fans

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vbl2Be careful how into the game you get this summer at your favorite local Valley League park. Any deemed overexuberance might get your team fined by the league commissioner.

The league office is mum on the topic, but two sources close to the situation have told Augusta Free Press that teams could be subject to fines of as much as $1,000 for violations of the VBL’s Code of Conduct, the standard line about how the league promotes “good sportsmanship” and “supporting the participants and officials in a positive manner.”

“Profanity, racist or sexist comments, or other intimidating actions directed at officials, participants, coaches, or any other team representatives,” the VBL Code of Conduct continues, “will not be tolerated and may be grounds for removal from the ballpark.”

This is boilerplate for codes of conduct for any sports league. How teams will be held accountable to the point of being fined for fan behavior in their ballparks – or in visiting ballparks – is another question.

League spokesperson Lauren Jefferson told AFP in an email that the VBL’s board of directors “was not notified of any specific fines for fan behavior; however, each franchise is held accountable for the ‘League Code of Conduct’ as it applies to its fans.”

Without action from the board setting “specific fines for fan behavior,” it would seem to be difficult for second-year VBL Commissioner Don Lemish to enforce anything in the form of a monetary sanction against a team without inviting a legal challenge, since the Code of Conduct is specific about the sanction for a violation of its terms, that it applies solely to fans, and that fans found to be in violation of the code are to be “removed from the ballpark,” with no mention of fines contained therein.

The driving issue here would appear to be the documented shouting match between a Waynesboro Generals fan and members of the Harrisonburg Turks coaching staff and Turks players after the Generals’ completed their surprise two-game sweep of the top-seeded Turks in the first round of the 2013 VBL playoffs. The incident was a focal point of the postgame story in the Daily News-Record and also made it to the pages of the AFP, which was on the scene for the incident.

The championship series between the Generals and the Strasburg Express was also marred by efforts of a group of Express fans to bar Generals fans from sitting in bleachers behind home plate for the deciding Game 3 with placards placed on the bleachers noting that the seats had been reserved for fans of the Express.

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