Declaration of the Rights of Fan and of the Citizen

Phillies fans have become a very well-celebrated traveling circus in recent years, particularly in Washington, and our behavior, and the behavior of our hosts, has become, at times, a national news story. I really can’t figure out why anyone gives a crap about this, but in this part of the world, there seems to be the conception that entering a sporting arena entitles an individual not only to abdicate his sense of decorum and propriety, but to hurl verbal and sometimes physical abuse on strangers.

I don’t really like watching live sports all the time. I’d rather watch from home, where I don’t have to block out the entire night and pay exorbitant amounts for admission and transportation to sit out in the elements. If I want a communal experience, I’ll go on Twitter, and if I really want a communal experience, I’ll head around the corner to the bar. Don’t get me wrong, I do like going to games from time to time, but I don’t need to be there all the time–if I get to half a dozen Phillies games a year, I’m generally happy.

But anyway, when I do catch a live event, I almost would rather be a visiting fan than go see my team at home. I like going out in a different city, seeing a different ballpark, and taking in new ballpark traditions, and, as often as not, meeting local fans. There are some exceptions–after winning two straight against the Phillies last June, Pirates fans got a little nasty, and a little kid at a Flyers-Thrashers game once flipped me off and called me an asshole–but otherwise, my interactions with others as a visiting fan have been absolutely positive in all cases.

I bring this up because I’m heading to Baltimore this weekend to catch the series between the Phillies and Orioles–I suspect at least a couple other Phillies fans have had this idea–and I want the run of good feelings to continue.

One of the pivotal moments of the French Revolution–and the only moment in French history pre-Napoleon that I’m particularly familiar with that didn’t involve tennis equipment or messy executions–was the publication of “The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen,” a philosophical and legal document that’s exactly what it sounds line. I was inspired by this declaration to write, considering that Camden Yards will most likely be overrun by Phillies fans this weekend, a similar document is in order: “The Declaration of the Rights of Fan, and of the Citizen,” inspired by the Marcliff du Leefayette, and Juan Robespierre…yeah, never mind.

Anyway, I don’t want to Rovell y’all and give out a bunch of rules undemocratically–which would be quite ironic, given the source material–so consider this as a suggestion, rather than a set of laws that everyone should follow because I said so. Though if everyone follows these just because I said so, that’d be totally cool.

RIGHTS OF THE VISITING FAN

  • To be free from physical oppression or intimidation. No one wants a Brian Stow incident, or that nastiness outside Geno’s after the Winter Classic.
  • To be given free access to the stadium and surrounding amenities or entertainment venues. None of this “we’re only selling tickets to Virginians and Marylanders” malarkey. Anyone who can afford a ticket should be welcome.
  • To be free from excessive verbal abuse or ad hominem attacks. You probably shouldn’t get your panties in a twist if you wear a Scott Hartnell jersey to Madison Square Garden and someone makes a Jeff Carter joke. But on the other hand, I was in the student section for a South Carolina-LSU football game once, when people spotted a kid in a purple sweatshirt a few rows down from me. Within minutes, almost literally the entire 12,000-person student section was chanting “Get the fuck out!” at this poor kid, who had done nothing wrong except wear the wrong colors in the wrong spot. Stadia should not resemble gang turf wars, or the lynch mob scene from To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • To wear your team’s colors and cheer when something good happens to them. That said, don’t act like a jackass. Stand up and cheer and clap at a big base hit, or yell the occasional “CHOOOOCH!” but if you’re a total boor, The Committee for Public Safety takes no responsibility for what happens to you.

For that matter, I think all of those things are contingent on the manners and good behavior of the visiting fan. If you show up in another team’s stadium and are obnoxious, confrontational, or disruptive, they have every right to be rude to you back. But there’s no reason why adults of different allegiances can’t enjoy a baseball game (or really any sport that isn’t soccer or college football) in relative harmony. I look forward to exploring an unfamiliar city this weekend and meeting new fans with a different take on the game than the insular Phillies-based community in which I find myself, as well as making about a billion references to The Wire. And even to exchange a bit of good-natured ribbing and banter. I’d like to think that if an Orioles fan (or any fan, for that matter) came to take in a series in Philadelphia, he’d be able to do so without encountering open hostility.

Additions to this list? Deletions? Or should the Committee for Public Safety just go on with the beheadings?

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14 comments

  1. Bill Baer

    June 04, 2012 03:52 PM

    One of the suggestions I put in my book was for home fans to buy a beer for a nearby fan of the visiting team. Great way to start a conversation and maybe make a new friend. :-P

  2. El Bonobo

    June 04, 2012 04:28 PM

    Well Bill,

    you would be welcomed in Minnesota (sadly I will be in Philly when they’re out here next week). Folks might give you an “oh we sure miss that Jim Thome fella” and you might spot an occasional hockey mullet… that said, if ever come to Target Field, it’s a great park (and make sure to check out the Surly beer near section 120). We enjoy your tweets and podcasts out here.

  3. El Bonobo

    June 04, 2012 04:30 PM

    sh#t meant mike and the whole crashburn alley crew. uff-da

  4. turducken

    June 04, 2012 04:46 PM

    Section 106 at CBP needed this posted somewhere. They flambeed some poor Fish fan on Saturday. He was standing and clapping with energy and trying to be seen clapping with energy, but the response was excessive.

  5. Jeff

    June 04, 2012 07:50 PM

    I really enjoy Spring Training games — home or away — for exactly this reason. Nice to talk with fans from various teams, and not just the two playing, in a relaxed atmosphere.

    On the flip side: our fans who chant E-A-G-L-E-S at a road baseball game really should just go away.

  6. Kurt Smith

    June 04, 2012 08:31 PM

    As a younger Orioles fan I traveled to see my team a lot. I’ll never forget a gentleman buying me a beer in Toronto…I thought that was outstandingly cool. On occasion I would buy a beer for a fan that was friendly to me. Buying a beer for someone at the game is a wonderful gooodwill gesture, especially at today’s beer prices.

    On the other hand, as an O’s fan I do sympathize with the irritation at “Let’s Go Yankees” chants. I have to remind myself that the really obnoxious ones aren’t the majority and paying customers should be allowed to cheer as they please.

  7. jauer

    June 05, 2012 10:17 AM

    Well I got ejected from a game, at CBP, for booing a fan who tried to interfere with a ball down the right field line. Pence caught it, but the fan certainly reached over and tried to catch the ball. I booed, loudly, and a woman in front of me yelled at me to “go home”. She thought I was booing Pence, because I previously made a sarcastic remark about how he doesn’t get booed because he likes to eat.

    I told the lady that I was booing the fan interference and not Pence, at which point her husband stood up, turned around, and screamed at me to not talk to his wife. I said “I won’t talk to your wife if she doesn’t talk to me.” Never once used profanity, and never started a conversation with anyone in my section. I was removed from the section by security because of “complaints”; i explained that I was trying to keep a scorecard, and never once did I break the code of conduct, and I demanded that I return to my section.

    They did not let me go back into the section when I asked, so I became angry. I said “if I can be removed from the section because of someone’s complaint not material to the code of conduct, then can you remove the woman in front of me because I don’t like her shirt?” Sure, the snarky argument probably wasn’t the best idea, but it was certainly valid, and at this point, I was more interested in seeing how shitty CBP has become than seeing Joe Blanton allow 5 home runs to the Red Sox.

    I was finally told to go back to my seat, at which point I said “so you brought me up here just to tell me to go back to my seat, nice.” They said, “no, we just want you to keep quiet.” I said, “I’m not allowed to boo at a baseball game? I’m not allowed to make noise at a baseball game where there’s an 11-million dollar scoreboard that says ‘MAKE NOISE’?”

    Of course, using logic with these fools wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I went back to my seat. Before I could even get back to my seat, two guys in the standing room area behind the section (sec. 315), heckled me “HEY DYKSTRA, GO HOME!” — I was wearing a Dykstra jersey — at which point I ignored the assholes and looked at the security guy and said “can you remove them from the section for yelling at me?” I was then ejected from the game.

    I was ejected from a game because I got heckled by two people in front of me and one person behind me. The only profanity I heard all night? From the security guards who escorted me out.

    And, no, I was sober until I walked to the Jetro Lot for free beers after the ejection.

    Believe what you want, but CBP has turned from an awesome place to a place where you’re ALLOWED to interfere with the ball in play (this example, the asshole from Saturday who ruined Cole Hamels’s outing — he didnt get ejected, the guy who Werth cursed at, the guy who climbed over the tarp for a foul ball last week, etc.), and the only players youre allowed to boo are Bobby Abreu and Jayson Werth — 2 guys who are infinitely better than the fool who plays right field now.

  8. KH

    June 05, 2012 10:38 AM

    Dude give it up. At least you didn’t right something half the length of War and Piece this tiem though. Thank god for that.

  9. Scott G

    June 05, 2012 10:58 AM

    I was with Jauer. It was easily my least enjoyable/most infuriating time at a Phillies game ever, and I was at Game 5 last year. The CBP staff was extremely unprofessional.

    I hadn’t said anything the entire night, and then the head staff person wouldn’t even allow me to have a civil conversation with him. He told me that if I kept speaking with him that I’d be ejected.

  10. jauer

    June 05, 2012 11:03 AM

    War and Piece was 16 paragraphs? Eye must reed that sum tiem.

  11. Kevin

    June 05, 2012 07:43 PM

    @jauer and Scott G:
    I work in the ballpark in the retail department and I swear the security guards and ushers think they are the most important people of all time. They all take their job way to seriously. It’s a shame, it’s like they’re all on a huge power trip and will do anything they can to make sure no one even thinks about disrespecting them. I’m pretty sure when people go to the games they want to have fun and most of the Phillies workers don’t let them.

  12. Scott G

    June 05, 2012 09:52 PM

    I appreciate your input, kevin. I was at the game again tonight, and all of the involved parties have at least the same ticket plan as me. Sadly, the people who started all the trouble the night of the Red Sox game did not take offense to the inebriated, ignorant fan sitting directly in front of them. He screamed for 8 inning, most of the time berating fans who weren’t being “intimidating enough” by not doing the wave. “don’t call yourselves phillies fans!”. What a disgrace. Apparently booing fan interference and bad calls and the opposing team is worse than being an even louder drunk mess for an entire game.

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