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Fan Safety Survey Results

The following appeared in USA Today on April 20th, 2011

Tell us: Do you feel safe at the stadium?

By Erik Brady, Bob Kimball and Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY

Fan support getting out of hand

By Bob Kimball, USA TODAY

Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan beaten nearly to death in a Dodger Stadium parking lot, remains in critical condition. His two attackers remain at large. And the sports world remains horrified.  

USA TODAY wants to hear from you. Do you feel safe going to your local stadium? Are you comfortable bringing your kids to games? Or do you think fan behavior is out of control?

The Los Angeles Dodgers have canceled half-price beer night and assumed the cost of extra city police officers at their games in the aftermath of an incident that is only the latest involving fan violence at U.S. stadiums:

• As many as 75 people brawled in the Rose Bowl parking lot before the Southern California-UCLA football game in December. Two were hospitalized with stab wounds and three arrested.

• Cellphone cameras captured a strange interlude at tennis’ U.S. Open in September as a 49-year-old woman slapped a 27-year-old man. When her 75-year-old father stepped in, the two men fell over rows of seats. The combatants were taken into custody but not arrested.

• A 23-year-old man put two fingers down his throat and intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl at a Philadelphia Phillies game last April. A judge suggested his community service include cleaning ballpark toilets.

Alcohol is often a common denominator in cases of fan violence. Perhaps most infamous is Ten Cent Beer Night, a promotion in Cleveland in 1974 that ended in forfeit when drunken fans stormed the field in the ninth inning. Umpire Nestor Chylak, who was hit by a rock and part of a stadium seat, called fans “uncontrollable beasts.”

“This is not just an American issue,” says Joel Fish, director of the Center for Sport Psychology in Philadelphia. “If you look internationally, there are more cases of fan violence in Europe, in Asia and in South America. So there is just something about sports that pushes buttons in people and activates a lot of emotion.”

Fish thinks the constant media cycle increases fans’ identification with their favorite teams “and the things fans say to opposing players and fans has more of an edge to it than ever.”

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