What the Heck?


James Heck


We have all seen those crazy sports fans dressed in their team’s colors, with their faces painted and decked out in team gear.

Many Oakland Raiders fans take it a step further by covering head-to-toe in black and wearing Halloween masks and football shoulder pads covered in spikes.

With the appeal of representing one’s team often comes the loyalty many people show their team.

And with that aggressive loyalty, you better believe passion is involved.

So what happens when a fan or player from another team disses someone rooting for another?

Well, let the chaos begin.

Roughly 10 years ago, I went to a “Battle of the Bay” game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The 49ers played the Oakland Raiders, but for the fans it seemed like it was much more than a game. Walking through the mixed crowds of fans of both teams, all I could hear was insults, threats and physical taunts thrown at one another.

I do not remember who won, but I do remember as I was in a car leaving the game I saw two small groups of men fighting in the parking lot. One group had 49ers jerseys on and the other had Raiders jerseys on.

I was shocked to see them throwing punches and fighting, but was horrified when a man started stomping another man when he was on the ground. The man lifted his leg up, driving his knee upwards towards his chest, and stomped on the victim’s face several times.

I do not know what happened to the man on the ground, but I do know acts of violence like this happen at sporting events.

In 2011, two victims were shot in the stadium parking lot and another was severely beaten in a stadium restroom at Candlestick Park at a preseason “Battle of the Bay” game. The violence caused great concern among the 49ers organization. As a result, preseason games against the Oakland Raiders have been indefinitely banned.

The reason behind violence at sporting events is still unknown to me. You are supposed to have fun at games. Bringing your friends, family or attending alone should be a time of happiness and enjoyment, not violence and inappropriateness.

It is okay to be passionate about your team, but do not let it influence how you act and treat other people. I am sure alcohol consumption has something to do with flaring tempers, but we as fans need to take accountability for our actions.

This means being respectful to not only other fans of opposing teams, but also to players on opposing teams.

I played on club soccer teams for many years and know how intense soccer games can become. The reason why fans on both sides act inappropriately at a soccer game is still a mystery to me.

My senior year of high school I was playing for a competitive club. There was a game against one of our rivals and the match quickly became chippy.

The soccer moms and dads from the opposing team were verbally harassing and taunting us the entire game. I have never experienced fans pointing fingers in players’ faces and demeaning them. If I wanted to see a bunch of animals, I would have just gone to the zoo.

At the end of the game, a player on my team decided he had enough. He dropped his shorts and mooned the opposing sideline.

Was it mature? No. But neither were the actions of the adults that day.

I have also noticed this taunting from fans on Sac State’s sideline at the men’s home soccer games. It is obnoxious and uncalled for, especially when some of the fans call out players by their names and hound on them individually.

I understand how fans feel passionate about the team they are rooting for. I am also a fan.

But we as fans need to be able to control our actions and show some respect to the players and the game being played.

James Heck can be reached at [email protected]