We live in a world in which many of us spend week after week crowded on a subway, cramped in a cubicle, pushing a lawn mower, washing dishes or cleaning bathrooms. Perhaps the trials of this world are why sports teams have become such an important outlet, such an integral part of our selves.
When our team wins, we feel elated, empowered, successful. When our team wins at home, all the better; we have defended our castle, turned back the infidels, marked our territory.
But a percentage of each fan base lose sight of where to draw the line. They become mean-spirited. Angry. Dangerous.
Click on to see the 20 most vicious home fans in sports.
The Dawg Pound is a section of Cleveland Brown's Stadium known for its particularly boisterous and often "well-oiled" denizens.
Pounders became notorious for their fusillades of dog food, dog biscuits and even batteries—so much so that Cinicinnati Bengals coach Sam Wyche once reprimanded misbehaving Bengals fans by reminding them that they lived in Cincinnati, not Cleveland.
At Candlestick Park, several serious fights broke out between Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers fans.
Last year there was a fight in the stands, a man was assaulted in the upper-level bathrooms, a man wearing a "F**k the 49ers" shirt was shot multiple times in the stomach and, in another shooting incident, a man was shot numerous times but sustained lesser injuries, according to the Los Angeles Times.
And folks, this was a preseason game.
Things may not have improved all that much this year. In October, an altercation between fans resulted in a stabbing.
You definitely don't want to chum the water at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
Willa Ford (former WAG of former Dallas Stars player Mike Modano) said that Shark fans were among the loudest and most violent crowds that she'd ever seen in person and that it worried her.
In December 2011, Sharks fans cursed and shoved a 16-year-old girl wearing a Vancouver Canucks sweatshirt.
Maggie Herger, the victim, is a diehard Canucks fan. Why? Because four years earlier, she had battled a brain tumor. While she was in the hospital, who came to visit her and cheer her up? Why, members of the Canucks.
Click here to watch an interview with Ms. Herger.
Sports journalist Paul Oberjuerge puts it plainly:
"Dodger Stadium has been filled with dozens, maybe even hundreds of thugs almost every game for years now. Obscenity-spewing, tatted-up gangsters, often-drunk, who can ruin a game for anyone in their vicinity."
Perhaps the most notorious recent case of Dodger fan viciousness is the March of 2011 incident. Two Dodgers fans allegedly savaged a 42-year-old father of 2, who was wearing a Giants jersery at Dodger Stadium.
The victim remained in a coma for 3 months and continues to regain full use of his mental facilities.
Violence has continued at the stadium, with another beating incident in May of 2012.
Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said that Dodger Stadium is one of the few places that the LAPD allows their officers to be hired by an outside organization and to wear their police uniform.
Canadians (fans of the team, not the nation) are notorious for booing the United States national anthem, heckling players and rioting when their team advances in the playoffs.
Even Bob "Le Capitaine" Gainey, former GM of the Canadians, said this about his then-fanbase: "I think they're a bunch of gutless bastards, to be honest."
The Cole Field House crowd in College Park, Md. don't just come after opposing players; they come after their families.
Once a player's uncle got into a scuffle with angry Terrapin fans.
Two years later, a Terrapin fan, disappointed by an overtime loss at home to the rival Duke Blue Devils, launched a bottle that clobbered Renee Boozer, the mother of Duke's starting center Carlos Boozer, in the head.
Oh, and the Terp fans, well, they enjoy an occasional riot as well.
It's a golden rule of warfare the world over: don't bomb the med tent.
Well if soccer matches were battles (and at times they may resemble just that), fans of Omnia, a football club from Cyprus, have broken the code.
In October of this year, an away player was being treated on the field when a flare crashed down and exploded.
As evidenced by other slides in this article, away fans are sometimes driven out of stadiums. Players are sometimes forced to quickly flee to their locker rooms. Players and coaches must duck for cover at times.
But Ohio State wins the award for the only school to drive a commentator out of the state.
OSU grad and former starting quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, now an analyst and commentator, said that 5 to 10 percent of OSU fans are relentless.
This group considered him a traitor for trying to be objective when it came to his alma mater.
The harrassment proved too much for him.
"I don't want to leave," Herbstreit said in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch. "But I just can't do this anymore. I really can't keep going like this."
He now resides with his family in Nashville.
And a second entry for the City of Brotherly Love.
Among the many brawls involving Flyers fans is one that came after the Winter Classic vs. the Rangers in January 2012.
One of the injured, a Rangers Fan, "was an off-duty New Jersey police officer and former Marine who was awarded a Purple Heart in Iraq."
They start 'em young in Minnesota.
Check out this little boy using his laser stare to vaporize a visiting player.
Chesterfield? Are you kidding me? Why Chesterfield over Man U, over Man City, over Arsenal, over Millwall, over West Ham, over Leeds, over The Spurs? They all have giant, passionate, rowdy fan bases.
While the Chesterfield fan base may not be as large as some of the other clubs, statistically they have the greatest number of fans per thousand banned from games.
Chesterfield came in at 10.65 fans per thousand. By comparison, Millwall had 9.23 and Leeds had 6.14. Man U had just 1.14.
Pictured here is a teen, presumed to be a Chesterfield fan, walloping Bury goalkeeper Cameron Belford in the head during a April 2011 game.
Congrats, Philadelphia. You've hit the trifecta (note Phillies and Flyers slides previously)!
The Philly locals could teach the Inuits a thing or two about snow-packing skills.
Then in 2009, Eagles fans in the upper deck unleashed a barrage of snowy missiles on visiting San Francisco 49ers fans, helpless down below.
Click here to see the dramatic footage.
But it isn't always snowballs. Violence was so frequent during Eagles games at the old Veteran Stadiums that a criminal court, complete with a judge and a jail, was installed inside the stadium.
The preferred targets of Galatasaray Anonim Şirketi football club thugs (see next slide), football club Fenerbahçe fans can be extremely vicious themselves.
In May of 2012, a scoreless game resulted in the Turkish league championship title going to Fenerbahçe's aforementioned nemesis.
The massive riot you see in the video broke out. Police had to use shields and pepper spray to get players safely off the field and into the locker rooms.
"The Turk Telecom Arena is a cauldron of emotion and anger that could send shivers down the spine of even the bravest fan..."—Gareth McKnight
This new stadium has replaced the old Ali Sami Yen Stadium, also known as "hell."
Think of Türk Telekom as Hell 2.0.
It is home to the Galatasaray Anonim Şirketi football club, whose fanbase ranks among the most thuggish in sportsdom.
Galatasaray fans attack rival fans and players alike.
And when annoyed enough, they've even been known to tear up their own stadium.
Bit of a recap:
Philly fans have hurled snowballs.
Browns fans have hurled doggy treats and batteries.
Omnia fans have hurled exploding flares.
Can you top that Sepahan fans? Oh yes, and how!
In September 2012, during an Asian League match in Isfahan, Iran, it was presumably a Sepahan fan that lobbed a LIVE HAND GRENADE onto the field.
A Sepahan player spotted the object, and not recognizing it for what it was, casually tossed it away.