When being a fan goes too far

Everyone can understand how a deep love for anything can cause deep-seated animosity.

A love for money can break up families, a devoted professional can garner hatred from peers and sports can make enemies of the best of friends.

Therefore, it’s no surprise to see lives tragically altered due to rivalries in sports. Sadly those stories are prevalent in spite of a world that strives to make sense and be logical.

On Monday, it was reported that a woman ran over a man at a New Hampshire area bar. The 43-year-old woman was a New York Yankees fan. She had been drinking at the bar and got into a baseball-related dispute with fellow patrons.

The woman said she was provoked into running over and killing the 29-year-old man who happened to be a Boston Red Sox fan.

She is currently on trial facing numerous charges including reckless second-degree murder and aggravated drunken driving. The charges are felonies and the woman is staring at significant jail time.

The simplest take on this is that people do stupid things all the time. This story, though sad as it’s sports-related, is no different. It’s the same kind of foolishness we see here in Cayman when people get stabbed at clubs over something petty.

The bigger picture is that this news story shows the dark side of the sports world. Devout fans are fans until death and sometimes will do great harm in the name of their team.

It’s the same kind of mindset that’s behind some of the scary stories that come out of Europe.

How many times have there been images of people fighting in the street, burning cars and so on over a football match? How often have you heard of fans trampling on and killing fans of a rival team?

For me, football and European action has long been marred by this fact. Mind you, I don’t think any less of the sport or the quality of games in Europe.

The best leagues in the world are in England, Spain and Italy without a doubt. It’s just that I will always bear the intensity of fan loyalty in mind before I buy, say, a Tottenham jersey and go to Emirates Stadium in London.

However, American sports, baseball in particular, is new to the idea of fans taking things too far.

On the other hand, the Yankees and the Red Sox have long had one of the game’s ugliest rivalries.

Their matches are always ultra-hyped and often feature fights (at the very least verbal sparring) on the field by the players.

It is also true that their fans have been in disputes off the field for ages.

I’ve heard of cases where Yankee fans are chased out of an area for showing their team colours. I’ve also seen fans from both squads coming to blows in the streets.

To my knowledge, there has never been a case of murder involving fans of those teams until now. To me, that’s a big step from tussles to murder.

The old saying goes ‘too much of a good thing is a bad thing’. This case certainly proves the saying true. There’s nothing wrong with being a sports fan but there’s definitely an issue when it drives you to kill someone.

As a devoted Yankees fan, the story is a disgrace. Fans of the team will tell you that they try to put themselves above that sort of behaviour. Moreover, it’s disgusting seeing a Yankees fan bring more negative press to the game.

Conversely, I can see where the woman’s aggression comes from first-hand. I understand her dislike for the Sox and Sox Nation. I don’t share the same level of hatred for them as her but I can tell you I don’t like that crowd.

I know some Red Sox fans can be a pain. With the way the Yankees are struggling these days they’ll be the first to rub it in your face. Thus I can see why she would blow a fuse.

Ultimately, there’s no excuse for her actions no matter who you support. She simply went too far. There’s no reason to throw away your life in such a senseless way.

The shame of it all is the game doesn’t need this kind of attention. Baseball is having a hard time as it is trying to deal with the issue of steroids. The last thing it needs on its plate is any sort of reputation for dangerous fans.

At the end of the day, moderation is the key to everything. There’s nothing wrong with being a devout sports fan. But there’s certainly something wrong when being a fan makes you a killer.