One thing that seems to get lost in the sports fandom is the realization that every single one of those athletes are human beings. They all have families, they all have friends, and they all have lives outside of their sport. The behavior of some fans that I have seen at games and on Twitter is downright disrespectful, unnecessary, and unacceptable.
When I was a young girl, going to Tiger Stadium and then Comerica Park was the highlight of all of my summers. I watched every game that I could on television and seeing them in person was a surreal experience. I will admit that my favorite Tiger as a young'n was none other than Bobby Higginson. Being a kid, I was innocent and naive to the game. I didn't know about contracts, or how much each player was making. All I wanted to do was watch the Tigers and celebrate the rare moments in which they won. So when I encountered my first heckler at a baseball game, I was entirely too confused for my own good.
“Why is that guy in the Tigers shirt booing Higgy?!” I asked my Paw Paw, who I always sat next to.
“He isn't hitting the way they're paying him to. He's letting everyone down,” my Paw Paw would answer.
Ahh, money. The root of all problems. I started to realize the business side of baseball, and it was a side that I did not like.
From the first day I witnessed a heckler until now, I still find it to be the most disrespectful type of “fan” that there is. Yes, worse than the loud person sitting behind you who doesn't know a single thing about baseball. Worse than the people who kick the back of your seat. I find hecklers more annoying than people who try to start the wave at a crucial moment in the game.
Who are you benefiting by yelling at a ballplayer? Who gains anything from you saying nasty things to an athlete on Twitter? When a player is batting poorly or a pitcher can't seem to find the plate, why boo? Why kick a player while they are down? It's not as if they want to do bad. They've worked their entire life to make it to The Show. Do you think they WANT to blow that chance? How is booing going to help them in any way at all? Show some respect.
I realize I'm talking to myself here. The people who treat baseball players as just a number on the back of a jersey rather than real human beings will never change. And you know what? I understand the frustration. It isn't fun watching a baseball player struggle. To say it bluntly: it sucks. Every baseball fan wants to see the best 25 players on their favorite team. Trust me, I get it. But as mad as it makes you to watch a player have a hard time, imagine how it feels for them. Imagine how it feels for their family members. Yelling from the stands or typing from behind your computer isn't going to solve anything. “That player couldn't hit a beach ball off a tee! He sucks! I'm going to tell him about it!” As if he doesn't already know? As if telling a player how bad they're doing is going to magically make them do better? Get real.
Yes, I know there is a such thing as “playful heckling.” I know when people are joking around. I might have been naive when I was younger, but I'm a little bit smarter now. I don't expect any fan base to be all sunshine and rainbows but I do expect fans to learn a thing or two about what it means to respect others.
I said in my first blog post that this would be like my “baseball diary” of sorts. Well, here's a perfect example. I enjoyed the rant session. :)