Each week, Crossing Broad will take a look at a popular topic in Philadelphia sports, sometimes serious, sometimes not. This week, each of our contributors weigh in with their thoughts on fan behavior. Ever since Matt Clemmens threw up on an 11 year old girl last week, Philly has been thrust back into the spotlight for the actions of its fans. Read below the jump for our opinions.
Kyle: I went to the game on Saturday, it was 50 degrees, partly cloudy, and the first weekend home game of the season. Normally, a cold game in April against the Marlins would not exactly be a hot ticket, but this Saturday the game was sold out. The parking lot? A party. Phillies games have taken on the traits of a concert, with all day tailgates, heavy drinking, and sport becoming background noise to a social event.
I personally have no problem with fans jumping on the bandwagon. As a lifelong Phillies fan, it's nice to see Philly finally become a baseball town again, but this new found success has its downfalls.
Fans like Matt Clemment go to games. They drink to much, curse at opposing players, and throw up on 11 year old girls. Ok, well maybe just Clemment does. Still, behavior usually reserved for football games is making an appearance at CBP. Phillies tickets are cheaper and more accessible than Eagles tickets, making it easy for the bottom feeders to get into the stadium and ruin the experience for everyone else. Not to mention give Philly a bad rap. That rap, part reality, part perception(thanks to the never ending tale of snowballs and Santa), is only reinforced every time a Matt Clemment drinks too much in the parking lot. It overshadows the arrest of over 100 Dodgers fans last week in LA. It gives fodder to the national perception of asshole Philly fans.
If you want to party and tailgate? Go for it. I'll open the first beer. Just don't drink yourself into a drunken mess and ruin the experience for the real fans, the fans who want to enjoy a baseball game on a summer's evening, or even a cold night in April.
John: After CBP opened, it seemed to become the place to be, the way the Wrigley Field is in Chicago. And with that comes a small percentage of fans behaving badly. Many people start coming to the games just to come to the games, rather than watch the games attentively. I've heard a lot of discussion of possible solutions to the problem of drunken rowdy fans the last few days. Stopping beer sales earlier during the games isn't the answer. That will just encourage more drinking in the parking lots for those who need to get very drunk and then the people who just want to have a few beers during the game will be deprived of the privilege of paying $7 for a Yuengling lager after a certain point. And this may not be the most popular answer, but I think they need to raise ticket prices. When most of your tickets for the entire season are sold out the day they go on sale, then the market is telling you they are priced too low (this also lowers the profit margin for ticket brokers and scalpers, hopefully making it much less worth their while). A significant increase in ticket prices for some sections could deter the undesirable types of people from coming to the games just to get wasted and act up, and also serve the dual purpose of raising more revenues to help keep this nucleus of talent together.
Maybe now that I'm older and have a child of my own, my level of awareness has increased when it comes to bad fan behavior. I will never take my kid to an Eagles game and will probably wait a few more years before I take her to a Phillies game. I just think back to when I started going to games with my dad and how special that was, since we could only goto a couple of games every year. But lasting memories were created – game winning hits, HRs by Mike Schmidt, etc. And now I think of this poor 11 year old girl and unfortunately the memory of this guy throwing up on her is going to be something that will stay with her for the rest of her life, rather than anything that actually happened on the field.
Mark: Personally, I don't think any "fan" does the kind of stuff that would be on the same level as throwing up on an 11-year old girl. Those kind of people just go to these games to cause trouble. They aren't the people who watch the games daily just for the sake of seeing your team play and win; the true fans. They are the kind of drunks who hop on the bandwagon when things are good and go to the games just to cause trouble. So, I don't think the "fans" are getting worse, I just think the wagon-hoppers who go to the games to be an asshole are. Also, it's sad that the national media chooses to categorize all Philadelphia fans as troublemakers. A few bad apples doesn't mean that the whole bunch are bad.
Adam: I think fan behavior has varied since the opening of CBP, getting progressively more aggressive as fans became even more accustomed leaving the Vet. However, it's safe to say that the behavior is nowhere near that of Eagles games, unless the Mets are in town. (But Mets fans deserve any insults thrown at them if they're coming into our territory.) It also depends on where you sit; since the Phillies have become an elite team, lower levels seats have become infiltrated with the "businessman-type" crowd, instead of the rowdy one. As you go towards the upper levels, you will often find more teenagers and college students come out and cheer on their Fightins from cheaper seats. While I am completely against the disgusting behavior exhibited by the drunk asshole yesterday, I am all for poking fun at the other team's outfielders, booing fans of the opponents team, and other non-throwing-object, not-throwing-up-on-or-punching people fun.
Lauren: The attention-getting performances of the Phillies over the last three seasons has gradually made the entire city a fan. Inevitably, this changed the dynamic of fan behavior and the overall atmosphere at sporting events. Of course, there are people who have newly and (appropriately) embraced the game and all the glory that's accompanied it in recent years. Families with young children have multiplied and enthusiasm is through the roof. Sadly, though, I feel that the fan population has taken a general turn for the worse. Consider the last two notable incidents, one with Matthew "Pukemon" Clemmens purposely vomiting on a little girl and the other a bachelor party bus trip that began with a confrontation in McFadden's at the ballpark and ended with a death in the parking lot. The bottom line is that so many "fans" are using Phillies games as the backdrop for a day or night of binge drinking. Let's be honest: are you really attentive to the game when your blood alcohol level is 2 points over the legal limit? Doubtful. On the whole, I think those locals who are in it for the genuine love of the team have been around long before the glimmer-o
f-hope season that began in 2007.
Mike: I’ve been going
to Phillies games since I was 8 years old (21 years ago for those counting at
home), we used to have season tickets at the Vet, and now I have season tickets
of my own, so needless to say I’ve been to tons of Phillies games. In regards to Phillies fans behavior I think
it’s changed immensely, and I think the biggest reason that is has changed is
due to all the “new” fans that arrived late in 2008. I remember a few years back when the Phillies
were battling the Astros for the Wild Card and they didn’t beat them that
entire season… anyways Houston came to town late in the year, on a dollar dog
night, and me and a few friends got tickets at the gate for the game and sat
lower level in the OF, now a days you can’t get a ticket for a Thursday night
game against the Pirates 5 weeks before the game, where in those years you
could actually order playoff tickets in September without winning a raffle,
doing an unmentionable act on someone with power, or paying 300 dollars to sit
on top of the park where they light off the fireworks.
Don’t get me
wrong, the new fans and all the sellouts make the team better in the end as it
gives the Phils the ability to increase payroll every season. But like most
things, the good comes with some bad… Let me start by saying that I love to go
to games early (we have been in the parking lot 6-7 hours before game time on
many occasions), and I love to tailgate, drink too much, and stumble into the
game as the first pitch happens, but we’re a happy drunk bunch and we can
handle our alcohol like nobody’s business, we have never been ejected or even
warned, and always get along with the people around us, sadly not everyone is
like us. I’d say on average it seems
like 50% of the people in attendance are somewhat intoxicated by the 3rd inning and about 25% of those people can’t handle their alcohol and those
people become the problem, those people are the people you see on the news, in
the paper, on fans of visiting teams blogs, and they are the people that give
the rest of us a bad rap. I don’t hate
the drunk fans, as I many times are one of those fans… but I think the large jump
in Phillies fans is the main reason for most of the bad behavior at Phillies
games, but as long as Ruben keeps putting good teams on the field, it doesn’t
bother me in the least.