Went to my first ball game of the season on Sunday. My friend Sam's economics club couldn't find enough geeks to take the 50 tickets they'd bought for the Cubs-Brewers game, so I got to go instead. Twas a fun time, as most days at Miller Park are.
The club had hired a school bus to take us there, so the drinking began at 9:30 a.m., in preparation for the first pitch at 1:10. I was a little tired from polka dancing at the Essenh Hus the night before so I limited myself to just a few Keystones. Also, I knew too much beer would simply exacerbate the dehydration that three hours of glaring sun in the upper deck made practically inevitable.
The game was great. The left field foul pole blocked my view of the pitcher but it did not prevent me from seeing Casey McGehee hit a pinch-hit homer to put the Brewers on top in the bottom of the 8th. There were a ton of Cubs fans -- I'd say they made up between 1/4 and 1/3 of the crowd.
The only negative experience came after the game, as our bus was making its way out of the parking lot. Although it's great when a drunk realizes he has had enough to drink and pours out his beer, it's unfortunate when he decides that it must be poured on the head of an oblivious bystander. In our case it was the victim was the poor Cubs fan behind me.
When the girl shouted out the window what she thought of the perpetrator, a guy responded, "Fuck you, you're a Cubs fan."
Pathetic. First off, why go after someone whose team hasn't won in 102 years? The moron should have attacked me --I was actually wearing a Phillies hat at the time.
Drunk people do stupid things, but it's beyond disheartening to see our nation's pastime perverted by hooligans. I'd say it's more disturbing than steroids. I can understand why a minor leaguer making $20,000 a year shoots up with hope of making the big leagues. I can't for my life understand the motivation to hurt somebody because she's wearing another team's shirt. Don't you have anything more important in your life to get upset about?
Sports hooliganism represents some bizarre miniature form of fascism, in which people are so loyal to a corporation (the sports team) and adhere so closely to its propaganda that they literally fight for it.
Interestingly enough, this was right after I had met the president of the Madison Mallards, Vern Stenman, who had come on the radio show to talk about how his team handles drinking at games. The Mallards, whose infamous Duck Blind Zone offers unlimited food and beer for $35, have a stellar reputation of preventing drunkenness, OWI and hooliganism, he said. I'll have to wait to go to my first Mallards game to judge (I can't believe I still haven't gone!).
The advantage the Mallards have, of course, is that as drunk as people get, nobody cares enough about the team to fight over them. From what I hear, most people in the Duck Blind Zone barely watch the game. And there certainly aren't any fans of the visiting team to test them.
In addition to reminding people not to drink too much, major league sports teams should remind fans at games that, as much as they appreciate their passionate support, fighting over a sports game is embarrassing to everybody involved. I think a public service announcement by the team's players before every game would actually go a long way, especially in football.
Or how about an economics argument: "We welcome our friends from Chicago to Miller Park. Let's show them a good time and let them know that Wisconsin is happy to accept their tourism dollars any time."
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