Winter Classic Violence - Are Sports Fans Going Too Far?

Rivalries in sport have been around for as long as sports themselves. Dating back hundreds of years, these grueling debates have captured the emotions of players, coaches, and most importantly, fans. Rivalries can be about any team, in any sport. Most stemming from geographical and demographic locations. But in recent years, there has been a spike in fan violence, which has raised some concern among producers and consumers alike.

As of now, professional hockey is the only sport in America in which the game officials not only moderate fighting, but condone it as well. This being one of the reasons for the recent spike in popularity of hockey for U.S. consumers. But does the fact that the players get to fight mean that fans are allowed to as well?

Last week, the 5th annual Winter Classic was held at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA, between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. Although the game went off without a hitch, not the same could be said for the events that unraveled after the game. It seemed that a group of Flyers fans maliciously beat a couple Rangers fans. This fight was eventually broken up, but not after a couple bruises and black eyes. To make matters worse, one of the men who was assaulted was an off-duty police officer, who had just recently received the purple heart for his service in Iraq.

So we ask ourselves, are fans taking their emotions too far? I am sure we all remember San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, who in April was beaten nearly to death in a parking lot following a game between the Giants and the Dodgers. Stow, who was enjoying a night at the ballpark, ended up in a coma with brain damage.

As tragic as this was, this brutal attack raised red flags all over America. Many Franchises began to wonder if there was some way to stop the fans from going over the top. Many teams increased security at their functions, while others made a desperate media outcry to stop fan violence.

However, these attacks are seen by fans as a way to protect their team or "turf" as some may call it. Take Chicago for example. Everybody knows that the south side is filled with White Sox fans, and the north side is labeled Cubs territory. When fans cross borders, it can get ugly. As long as there are rivalries, there will be violence.

So the real question is, how do we protect ourselves, as well as our loved ones when we want to go to our favorite teams next game? My advice would be to monitor your emotions, and remove yourself from situations that could be dangerous. It is one thing to enjoy the game, we are all entitled to that right. However when innocent people are put in harms way, that not only gives a bad rep to those who are involved, but to the teams and cities that they are defending. Have as much pride as you want, but remember this, we are all there for the same reason. To enjoy the game.

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