Thursday, November 08, 2007

No Matter How Bad American Sports Get . . .

Being a sports fan is harder and harder each year. The billionaire owners take steps to destroy the game(s) in their pursuit of a buck, and constantly talk about "integrity" and "commitment" while players whine about their multi-million dollar salaries and complain about working conditions. Neither party assumes any responsibility for nurturing their industries, and they eventually rely on the stupidity of consumers.

All of this is very effective from a profiteering point-of-view, but makes for a miserable entertainment experience.

A fan can always rely on a ticket, a very expensive ticket, guaranteeing one thing: the right to cheer for your team, and boo and verbally harass the opposition.

Well, except in the NBA where Ron Artest and his posse will be in the stands to beat the ever-loving shit out of you when you react to his bad behavior. Oh, and in MLS where Clint Mathis rushed into the stands to confront a member of the supporters club. So, I guess that guarantee is not 100% fool-proof; but I always cheer for my team and boo the other team, even when the other team is a team I kinda like.

When the L.A. Galaxy came to New York to play my New York Red Bulls, I cheered David Beckham when he appeared on the field before the match, then I booed him and called him names during the match, then I gave him and all the players a standing-ovation at the end of the match. It was a perfect night: my team won as I cheered them on, and I booed and verbally harassed the opposition as best I could.

So, in the United States, it seems that the majority of players, coaches, owners and the media still accept the notion that my ticket allows me to be "verbally abusive."

Step forward, now, Sir Alex Ferguson (whom I prefer to call Sir Asshole Fullofshit), manager of Manchester United Football Club, in England (more commonly known on this blog as ManUre).

In an away match against Arsenal, at Emirates Stadium in North London, the home team managed to tie the match at the very end, denying Sir Fullofshit's team a victory. He, of course, blames the officiating, as we all do when games don't go our way.

Then he goes that privileged step further, that step that makes sports so impossible to enjoy, that step where he thinks that his salary is somehow paid by manna that magically appears from heaven. He blames the fans. The people who have bought (in the case of English soccer) very, VERY expensive tickets to sit close enough that the delicate Sir Fullofshit actually hears their remarks:

There is a lack of security. It is absolutely disgraceful the abuse you and your staff take. All sorts of things are being shouted and screamed at you and there is an absolute danger here.

Sir, your sense of danger is rather odd. You are in a public place, on television, surrounded by security in a stadium filthy with closed-circuit security cameras. You are in no danger. In England, a fan cannot even bring a beer to his seat so you can't even get beer poured on you (which, for those of you unfamiliar with American fandom, is a staple of expressing your dissatisfaction at an American sporting event). Sir, these people were yelling at you, not battering you. Sir, you are not in any danger at Emirates Stadium. Sir, it's men like you (well, liars like you) that make sport not very sporting. Did you think your opponent's fans should just sit quietly and demurely so as to not offend your delicate sensibilities?

Men like Ferguson should be removed from the game. They are an embarrassment to athleticism, sport for profit, and plain old fun!

Read more in this BBC article:

Man Utd probing Arsenal 'abuse'

Ferguson said the home crowd had shouted insults

Manchester United are compiling a security dossier after claims that their manager Sir Alex Ferguson was verbally abused by Arsenal fans.

The incident is alleged to have taken place at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday during United's 2-2 draw with the Gunners.

"Our security people are compiling a report on it - the incident was behind us," said Ferguson.

"But I'm sure that Arsenal, with their CCTV cameras, will have picked it up."

Ferguson was unhappy with the refereeing performance of Howard Webb on Saturday, but he said the hostile atmosphere inside the stadium had been a contributing factor.

"It is very difficult for the referee," he said on Saturday.

"On our bench, we were getting terrible abuse from people two or three feet away from us. Read more . . .

So, no matter how bad American sports get, with our corporate-sponsored stadia, bad television contracts, spoiled stars, piss-poor broadcasts, and bad marketing ploys, etc., at least we don't have our athletes and coaches whining that the fans are too mean to them and they fell like they are in danger. Thank goodness!

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