You see them in the stands at a football game, just off the field at a baseball or softball match or on the sidelines at a basketball tournament pacing, shouting, sweating. They argue with refs, umpires and judges. They taunt the other team for a bad play. They use profane language. They get red in the face over the minutiae.They call names then hide behind a jumbo hot dog.
They're otherwise known as obnoxious sports fans, sore losers, pompous winners or generally disagreeable people.
No one wants to sit next to them at a professional sports venue for fear an outburst can result in a lap full draft beer.
Most people loathe an argumentative parents at a youth sporting event. Some have even seen parents go at it with coaches, umpires or other parents to the point of a physical confrontation.
It seems to be a growing issue in America. We think Americans would never riot or stampede the field like a scene out of a South American football (soccer) match.
But let the evidence speak for itself: A San Francisco Giants fan was brutally beaten to near death at the hands of fans of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The beloved father will face a lifetime of struggle because of a silly sports rivalry. Perhaps in retribution, a Los Angeles Dodgers fan was stabbed to death outside of AT&T Park in San Francisco just two weeks ago.
Even more recent than that, the wife, yes wife, of a Cincinnati Reds pitcher claims she was assaulted at PNC Park when the Reds visited Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card game last Tuesday.
That's why I'm glad I root for the St. Louis Cardinals. Widely acknowledged as some of the best fans in baseball — perhaps all of sports — St. Louisans let the players play the game.
Sitting in the stands at Thursdays Game One of the National League Division Series, St. Louis fans naturally went wild in the third inning as the Cardinals plated seven runs, thanks in part to a three-run homer by Carlos Beltran.
But additionally, fans politely clapped when Pirates players made outstanding defensive plays. MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen received congratulatory applause for his exceptional season when he was introduced at the start of the game.
That's the kind of sportsmanship I like to see and the kind of behavior that should be instilled in anyone that plays a sport from a young age.
Let's face it: a very small percentage of child athletes will continue with sports professionally.
The most important lessons children can learn from coaches and parents is not how to properly shoot a basketball, swing a golf club or throw a football — it's that hard work, dedication and practice can make you into a stronger person off the field, even if you don't see the desired results on the field.
Page 2 of 2 - Inappropriate fan behavior serves as a detriment to American sports, be it at a high school game right up to the big leagues.
Passionate fans impassion athletes, there's no doubt about that. But there comes a point where passion becomes a handicap and the playing of a game transforms into the game playing the fan. Turning into a maniac doesn't set a good precedent for behavior — or for that matter, likability.
It sets children up to take a game with applicable life values and turns it into something far less valuable.