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Monday, 27 July 2015

Abuse Is Not a Sport

In May, the AFL had its annual Indigenous Round - a week of celebration of the role Aboriginal people play in the game. Adam Goodes, an Indigenous player who makes headlines for many controversial reasons, made them once again for doing this:


I'm amazed to find that two months later, talk about that moment is still going. Goodes played a game in Perth on the weekend in front of 40 000 people and was booed by all of them whenever he got near the ball.

Now the racial element to this event has been covered a thousand times. For the record I'm one of the (thankfully) many people who think it's ridiculous that any big deal was made about this at all. But to me this is an indicator of a problem that receives far less attention: abuse from sports fans.

To die-hard sports fans, abusing players and fans from the opposing team is natural and according to them, well-deserved. The same also goes for umpires, who are bombarded with horrific vitriol whenever they pay a free kick against the home team. This is done by people who are at all other times nice, functioning members of society. They would NEVER behave that way to anyone else. For some crazy, inexplicable reason, they feel it's entirely appropriate to become neanderthals once they're watching their favourite team.

I use the term neanderthal because there's no logic to it. The people who do this are sheep. They follow each other mindlessly and jump right onto the offensive whenever they're called on it. To them, it's just fun. I sit in the cheer squad and listen to them create witty, barbed new chants. It's a sport. They enjoy being abusive because the players and umpires have no right of reply. They feel big and clever. It gives them a sense of superiority. I've also seen them do it to players ON THEIR OWN TEAM. There's no reason for that! The idea just spreads that there's this one player who deserves to be slandered and it doesn't go away, no matter what the player does.

It spreads to social media as well. Everything an opposing fan says is screen-captured and used against them as evidence of their supposed stupidity. It's poisonous to the people at which it's aimed and also to greater society. It's completely dumb and utterly pathetic. If you're one of these people that gets abusive when it comes to sport, stop. Right now. Think for yourself. Ask yourself why you hate these people so much and if the answer ends up being "Because they're stupid" or "Because they deserve it", then grow up. Even if the answer is "Because they did it to me", then the way to beat that is to rise above it. Break the cycle. Being harsher and uglier than other fans does not make you better.

This is all without mentioning the toll it takes on the the mental state of the players and umpires involved. One of the saddest things about this epidemic is the complete lack of empathy from the culprits. Anyone who complains or speaks out is just a cry baby and needs to harden up or is trying to take their fun away. Again I say - grow up. Have some consideration and think for yourself. Then the sporting world will be immeasurably better off.

14 comments:

  1. Absolutely no argument from me. Well said. And a lot of these 'brave souls' are abusive only when they can be either anonymous or are in a crowd...

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  2. There's been a lot of race talk in the US. Cops in particular have been slammed. It feels like we are going backwards with that. Geez we're all people with different colored skin. It's like not liking a color in the crayon box when you need all of them to color in a picture.

    A lot of football players here have had issues with their tempers. Some have been noted as being abusive to their significant other; then they are let off the hook because they are a good ball player. Crazy!

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    1. That's also a very concerning problem. These people would also rather let a domestic abuser into their team than a gay person.

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  3. Yeah, well said. I might yell at the television screen but I wouldn't yell at anyone in person.
    And that's why I never mention my favorite teams online. People just go insane if it's a team they don't like.

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    1. It's pathetic. I don't get how it can be so much fun to hate other teams like that.

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  4. His behavior doesn't seem like a big deal to me, but I don't follow any sports. If I were to come across Michael Vick, the football player who had a dog fighting ring where the dogs were abused and often killed, I would cross the street to avoid him. A lot of people said that what he did wasn't important because they're just dogs. People who abuse animals are more likely to be violent with people. He got off very easy and is back in the NFL being paid a fortune.

    Love,
    Janie

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    Replies
    1. Sportspeople so often just get a wrap on the knuckles and then they're back. I'm fine with them getting paid millions of dollars to throw a ball further than the other guy, just as long as they get held to the same standards as the rest of us.

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  5. Great points. As an America who witnesses all the over the top celebrations of our professional athletes, I saw no big deal about that one. It is really terrible when those abusive fans go off on their tirades at youth events where their victims are children or adults who are volunteering to coach or umpire.
    Susan Says

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    1. Oh yes, that's awful too. And frankly, I understand it a lot less. At least the anonymity of being in a crowd can make a person feel big enough to be offensive. What makes them feel they can yell directly at volunteers like that?

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  6. The thing I hate about this aggressive and abusive behavior is that so many kids and young people are starting to think it is normal. We can't let this be normal.

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    1. Luckily I'm seeing a lot of people in the media denounce it.

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  7. PREACH ON! I'm not familiar with this exact team & action but this happens across the board. And you're right: They are Neanderthals when it happens.

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    Replies
    1. And they're usually great people any other time!

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