Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Post-Partisanship in Sports

Last night I was privileged to attend my first All-Star game, which was really fun, and the game was better than I expected, and I was happy to see the National League win for a change.  But I was surprised at the negativity displayed by some of the fans, when some of their team's rivals were introduced or came up to bat.  Since this was Angels Stadium, the loudest boos were reserved for their hated rivals the Yankees of course.   I understand that sports presents a great opportunity for national and local pride.  I think it's great that fans get excited about the performance of their national team in the World Cup.  I have no problems with feelings of local pride that bring fans out to cheer for their city's baseball or basketball team.  And maybe it's harmless good fun to hate your team's rivals, as when the Giants come to play in Dodger Stadium, or the Celtics play the Lakers.  That hate is the flip side of fans' devotion to their local team.

But this was the All-Star game!   Couldn't we put aside some of that hate for one night and just enjoy the performances of the game's best players from both leagues?   I understand cheering for your favorite players or teams.  I was cheering myself whenever one of the Dodger players came up or pitched.   But it didn't seem to me like the night to be making rude remarks about other teams or players.  So I wondered: Why are Angels fans booing when Derek Jeter comes up to bat, just because he plays for the Yankees?  He's a great player and tonight, he's on your team!  If he gets a hit, it actually helps the team on which your beloved Angels are playing.  Is it so hard for fans to put aside their hate for the Yankees and accept them as teammates for one night?  (I might add, especially on the day after George Steinbrenner has died.)  A little respect would not be out of place.  The players seem to enjoy the company of their rivals.  Why do many of the fans still need to behave like an angry mob?

As I said, I'm all for national and local pride, and enthusiasm in sports, politics and life.  I'm not trying to be a killjoy.  I just like to see all that enthusiasm channeled in a positive direction.

2 comments:

  1. Naaaaa ... it's not hate. The fans are just putting some humor into it. There's a huge TV audience and the fans are expected to boo. Most of them are laughing at the same time. Folks who get to All Star games by and large love all the players. I wouldn't take it as seriously as you seem to. The players don't. They get it and smile :-)

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  2. You're probably right, KP. I should just lighten up. On the other hand, you didn't hear some of the really nasty cracks some of the people in our section were making.

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