Mac Engel

Dear fans, quit being so dumb, drunk and stupid at sporting events

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn prepares for Game 4

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn prepares for Game 4 of their first round series against the Nashville Predators
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Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn prepares for Game 4 of their first round series against the Nashville Predators

What is wrong with you?

Seriously. This is not some pithy joke or snarky question, but what is your problem?

Every single fan who attends sporting events needs to pause and look inward to determine if they are the problem. Because it may be you.

Because there is a problem at all of our sporting events these days, from youth baseball and soccer, to NBA and NHL and NFL games. College football is its own sector. Fan behavior is too often embarrassing and whether it’s too much beer, too much stupid or too many enabling parents, this needs to stop.

The latest incident of Dumb Fans Doing Dumb Things went down in Game 3 of the Dallas Stars’ playoff series against the Nashville Predators on Monday night.

During the game, Predators forward Austin Watson was sent to the penalty box to start the third period. Some idiot, who paid a lot of money for his seat, decided to reach his hands into the box, and then made a comment or two.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette alerted the referees; arena security then confronted the fan, who was wearing an Alexander Radulov jersey. The fan was ejected, which means he still had a better night than Stars goalie Ben Bishop.

Acceptable fan decorum in these situations often includes verbal taunting and good, harmless-natured insults. It’s part of the culture of hockey, and sport. There is a right way to do this.

“Fans pay the money and they can say what they want, but there is a fine line. We are people, too,” Stars veteran center Andrew Cogliano said. “There is no tolerance for anything racial. That is way across any line. Any physical contact. Any touch. In an athlete’s world, we are working at that point.”

In a late February game between the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder, a young fan seated on the sidelines reached out and touched Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was decent and understanding about it; he simply told the boy’s father such behavior is a no-go.

A few weeks later, a Utah Jazz fan was banned for life from Jazz home games after he reportedly called Westbrook “Boy.”

What is wrong with people?

Sitting next to the glass at a hockey game is one of the most underrated experiences in sports; the chance to bang on the glass and take out some of that aggression you feel towards your loved ones, an ex, your boss, a co-worker, the person in line at the grocery store who pays with a check, is worth the price of the ticket for these seats.

The price of the ticket does not come with the following disclaimer: Because you paid an obscene amount of money to attend this sporting event permits you to unruly behavior, unlimited use of four-letter words and abusive behavior towards the players, and 7.3 percent off at the team store.

“There is sports and there is life and you don’t want those two sides to cross,” Stars veteran center Jason Spezza said. “There is more fan interaction than there has ever been. With social media, there is more now than ever. I’m old school, so I don’t know if this is better than not. Anything personal crosses the line. If it’s about sports, fine. If it’s about marriage, family, kids, no. Traumatic events in your life. You don’t do that.”

Could what happened on Monday night be a case of drunk muscles? Possibly.

Drunk muscles is also an excuse.

Here is a crazy idea, how about stop drinking when “you’re there?” All Dumb Fans Doing Dumb Things does is to make a sporting event awkward, uncomfortable and bad for the people sitting in your immediate area.

Recently, I rode the train from American Airlines Center back to Fort Worth after a Dallas Mavericks game; the train is packed, and the guy sitting directly across from me clearly had 15 too many, so of course he ends up barfing into his tall margarita drink.

Have too admit, his aim was impressive. He almost projected everything back into the tall, cup with minimal spillage before he ran/stumbled to the trash can to dispense some more fun. Fortunately for me and the person sitting in the surrounding seats, he came back and promptly passed out.

The smell was ... memorable.

I know too many people who say they purposely avoid attending NFL games, specifically Cowboys games, because of drunk and stupid behavior by fans in the seats. That they don’t want to be around it, and certainly don’t want their younger children to see or hear it.

Attending a game should be a fun, bonding experience with family and friends. Talking trash to a player is an essential part of the sporting experience.

There is no reason to go to a game if that changes.

Recognize the line.

Don’t be another Dumb Fan Doing Dumb Things at a sporting event. We are all tired of it.

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