Why do people even go to games anymore?


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Photo Credit: Brocreative

The incident involving UVA alum Mike Scott at a Philadelphia Eagles football game is being written off as, well, Philly gonna Philly, but I see a larger issue at play.

First, the basics, for those just joining in on this one.

Scott, traded to the Philadelphia 76ers at the February trade deadline, has become something of a cult darling over the past several months, making it a point to connect with fans in ways you don’t normally see pro athletes doing these days.

He was invited to an Eagles tailgate for the Sunday opener with the Washington Redskins, and showed up wearing a Redskins jersey, since, you know, Redskins fan, representing the colors.

A group of Eagles fans took offense, and not recognizing Scott as NBA Player Mike Scott, but large African American man wearing a Redskins jersey, started hurling insults, and N-words, before some pushing and shoving.

No harm, no foul: Scott ended up attending the game and having a good time, if you can say being a Redskins fan at an NFL game can ever really have a good time, knowing what’s about to happen.

OK, so, the larger issue at play.

This isn’t just Philly gonna Philly. Philly fans booed Santa Claus. They boo their own. They don’t deserve good things.

But the issue with boorish fans isn’t just a Philly thing.

The last college football game that I attended as a fan was back in 2011. I wanted to cover the UVA-Virginia Tech game that year from the perspective of The Hill, the sea of mostly students in the open-ended section of Scott Stadium.

I thought it would be a unique perspective to take in the game.

The press box, admittedly, can be a bit stuffy at times.

Dumb idea, this one.

Thirty minutes before kickoff, a kid passed out at my feet, drunk, throwing up. I signaled to ushers in the area that this was going on, and … nothing.

A few minutes later, another drunk kid tried to slide down the hill and broke his ankle.

At least this time, the ushers, and eventually paramedics, made themselves available.

There were fights all game long. It was chaos for three-plus hours.

A couple of years later, I tagged along with a friend who wanted to visit with a group of tailgaters that he used to hang out with before another UVA game.

Oh. My. God.

Vile is the best word that I can think to describe it.

N-words flying in reference to players, coach Mike London, and these were our fans.

I’ll reference here, then, my sister-in-law, an athletics trainer at Miami, has a 1991 championship ring, now lives in Virginia, and attends games involving UM when they’re in Charlottesville and Blacksburg.

A mom and her two kids, wearing green and orange, getting accosted by fans in both stadiums, is the image I’ll leave you with.

I’m embarrassed to say this in regard to UVA, I have to admit.

I’d like to say it’s not the UVA that I know, but I’ve seen it, as I mentioned above, at the tailgate, on The Hill.

I’m not suggesting that this is just a UVA Football thing at all. From what I read and hear, this is an issue pretty much across the sports landscape.

People think that buying a ticket gives them license to be assholes for the day.

I’ll say in reference to this that whenever I read about attendance being down, for example, UVA Football has had attendance issues for a good while now, MLB is seeing a downtick in attendance, I noticed seas of empties at Jacksonville and Carolina at their NFL openers this past weekend, I don’t think it takes much to figure out why.

I can watch the game on a big-screen TV in my house, not having to worry about parking, not having to take out a second mortgage to get a hot dog and cider, and also not having to put up with the cursing, abuse, racial and homophobic epithets.

The bigger question to me isn’t, why aren’t more people going to games, but rather, why do people still put up with this nonsense and go to games?

Column by Chris Graham



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