The San Francisco 49ers have banned tailgating after the start of games in the wake of a shooting over the weekend at a Raiders – 49ers exhibition game. The victims are being treated at the same hospital where Brian Stow is recovering after being beaten to near death wearing a Giants jersey in Dodger stadium. Are these recent incidents part of a larger pattern of violence? Are teams doing enough to protect their fans? Does violence at sporting events make you more likely to watch from home?

Scott Ostler, sports columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle
Ray Ratto, columnist, CSN Bay
Murray Sperber, author and visiting professor in cultural studies of sports in the Education Program at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education
Jerry M. Lewis, professor of sociology at Kent State University and author of "Sports Fan Violence in North America"

  • Lauri

    After seeing the awful on-field brawl between the Phillies & the Giants (when Victorino was mistakenly hit by a pitch in SF a few weeks ago), we can only think that the players show fans — especially vulnerable little kids — a horrendous model for violent testosterone-fueled behavior.

    All MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL teams (and especially the SF Giants) should take on the challenge of modeling non-violent behavior when they are on AND off the fields of play, in honor of Bryan Stow and the other fans recently victimized.

    It does NOT have to be a given that if a player gets hit by a pitch (even in a hyped-up, volatile rivalry situation), he storms the pitcher’s mound and the benches get cleared. The Giants (and all other players in all sports) can say NO TO VIOLENT REACTIONS and show kids – and all fans — that there are alternative ways of dealing with problems & keeping competition clean.

    Minimizing alcohol sales and monitoring drug usage by fans in stadiums would also help moderate fans’ violent behavior.

    We pray for Bryan Stow and remember all the time that this can be – and must be – prevented in the future…

  • bobraines

    When the giants played at candlestick I wouldn’t wear my dodger hat for fear of a beer shower or worse. Intimidative violence at sporting events is not new

  • Alex

    Absolutely it makes me want to watch from home. I love the Giants, but the first Giants/dodgers game I went to (in September of 2010 with my best friend) is absolutely my last. Beers being thrown, people being arrested around us, guys yelling and swearing VERY loudly? It’s scary and takes the fun out of being in that gorgeous ballpark. I’ll stick to inter-league play where tempers are less heated and the division title is never on the line.

    • Lauri

      Do you (or anyone reading this) think it’s OK for baseball players to fight on the field, clear the benches, etc. if someone gets hit by a bad pitch? 
      Aren’t the players showing a really bad example to fans everywhere, particularly the kids?
      Could they ever respond in a non-violent manner to something like someone being hit by a bad pitch?

      I wonder what others think…

  • Joe

    I feel like I’m the only person who thinks that people are just looking for an excuse to act obnoxious and destroy stuff?  

    Why don’t we discuss how to discourage that sort of behavior to help address the problem?

  • TimDoyle

    After the Giants clinched the NLCS on Oct 23 I got punched out because I had a maroon jersey on. 5 days at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and a great surgery.

  • Ally Strom

    Could the guests please comment on the connection between fans’ hatred of other teams and nationalism?  I have a hunch that a lot of worldwide violence and hatred against other countries begins in the sports arenas – even at the high school level…

    • Joe

      I see it as a throwback to old school tribal nature.  I’m guessing that somewhere, we are biologically programmed to act as such.  And decades of organized society has bred most of that aggression out of most of us.

  • Shaun

    The difference is between sports fans and team fans.  People who love football, hockey, or any other sport usually have a respect for the game, the other team and the other team’s fans.  There will always some trash talk, but there is respect.  Team fans (The hooligans Murray spoke of) are people who seem to just like the idea of being a member of a group against another group.  I’m a Red Wings fan living in Downtown San Jose and while I have encountered many true fans who are rivals during the game but buy you a beer after, I have also been threatened, chased, cursed, and physically assaulted by people who couldn’t name a single second line player.

  • TimDoyle

    It is just bizarre. I got punched out and almost lost an eye celebrating in North Beach the Giants Oct 23 clinching of the NLCS. I had a Maroon colored North Face jacket on and some Philly people thought I was doing something bad.

    • will

      If you got punched out for wearing a maroon jacket after a phillies – giants game then, NEWS FLASH, it was probably an SF Giants fan that did it.

  • Tony

    I’m a Bay Area football fan who has been to 10+ games both in Oakland and in San Francisco.  I sit in the cheapest seats and have seen major rivalry games in both stadiums.  The difference in the vibe for the battle of the bay is significantly more hostile than any other rivalry.  This game seems to bring out the worst fans from both sides of the bay.
    I think cancelling this game would be better than banning tailgating.

  • Francesca

    I haven’t heard much about personal responsibility? Who is raising and educating these people?

    • Joe

      A society dedicated to buying something now and paying for it later.  A society where money buys happiness.  A society where we must be constantly consuming, not thinking.

      Relationships with our neighbors (even neighbors that live across the bay) are not as important as owning product X and demonstrating it for status.

  • Cassie

    You can’t blame a stereo-typed “typical” Oakland Raider fan or accuse the entire fan base of being problematic. I’m a small, 40 year old white woman that loves football and my local team, and I guarantee I’m not causing any problems for anyone when I attend games. 

    I see more people like myself (of all races and genders) at games than I see of a criminal element throwing beers or punches.

  • Vince Leone

    Major League Soccer has done a very good job of promoting passionate fan groups without encouraging bad behavior. Teams have large organized fan groups that sing, chant, and make the games more fun.

    My family and I have attended almost every San Jose Earthquakes home for years without ever experiencing or hearing of problematic crowd behavior.

    • Wdanderson Esq

      What is Major League Soccer?

  • johnsonjsp

    I was at the game on Saturday and while there was some rowdy fans, it wasn’t scary or anything.  The issue I saw was that when there was incidents, the security and police took way too long to react and address the issues.  I think the media has blown this incident way out of proportion, since you’ve had incidents at nightclubs and concerts like this for years.  I like the idea of stepped up security in the stands and in the parking lot, and that should have been done already before this incident. 

  • Anthony

    I’ve been to the ‘Battle of the Bay’ game for 4 years straight and I will never go again.  Two things I will say from my personal experience: it has ALWAYS been more violent at Candlestick – more fights, more anger.
    I don’t think this has anything to do with either team or its real fans.  These are hoods from the worst demographics of both cities (look where the stadiums are located) with their annual excuse for nonsense.

  • THrasherbing

    As former 49er season ticket holder !!! To pay $159 to sit next gangsters is no  longer in my best interest !!!!  It has not been safe at Candlestick FOR YEARS !!!!!!!  Season Ticket holders Sell there preseason ticket to get some money back !!!!  Southern California does not allow Tailgating before or after the game  or Concerts they have City Laws against it !!!! The only Tailgating is Southern California is the Rose Bowl !!! Sad but safety first !!! 

  • baumgrenze

    Perhaps it is time for the media to start discussing “studio sports” in which the game is played in the absence of any fans who might attack one another. It certainly works for much of television. Think of the money that cities could save if they were not being subject to the extortion of building a new facility for some local sports team. The ultimate technical solution would also substitute virtual players for the real ones. Certainly we are not far from being able to accomplish this technically. The rules for such a game could eliminate responses like “emptying the benches” and provide a much more suitable behavior model for young fans. This approach would eliminate the physical damage to players as well, e.g., traumatic brain injury and ultimately Alzheimer’s in football players, and it would save millions in player salaries. Think of it as fantasy sports finally coming into its own.


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