Questions and concerns pour out from numerous media sources a day after a 17-year-old Phillies fan jumped onto the field and was subsequently Tased by a pursuing security guard. After being hit, the boy collapsed to the ground, but was led off the field on his own two feet seconds later.
Though given the support of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, some internet bloggers and writers have expressed concern over the possible "excessive use of force" in this situation, questioning the necessity of the use of a Taser to bring the fan under control.
However, I cannot help but to feel that not only was this an appropriate situation in which to tase a fan at a baseball game, but is appropriate anytime a fan runs onto the field.
In fact, what shocks me more than this fan getting Tased is how it is no longer surprising to fans when people run out there. We treat it like it is a daily occurrence, just another retard out on the field. We've been desensitized to the ridiculousness of the people who want the attention. However, this complacency should be treated with caution.
Have we forgotten when Tom Gamboa was blind-sided while he stood in the coach's box beside first-base by two fans (father and son) out in Chicago? How about when Bill Spiers was attacked in Milwaukee? Or more recently, when first-base umpire Laz Diaz was attacked by a fan (also in Chicago, coincidence?).
Let's say what everyone's thinking. FANS DON'T BELONG ON THE FIELD. It doesn't matter whether or not they "intend" on doing harm to a player, coach, or umpire. When a fan jumps on the field, how can you really tell what they "intend" to do?
No matter their reasons, any fan that jumps onto the field poses a potential threat to player safety. And as a result, they should be treated like the potential threat they are. There are clear warnings telling fans under no circumstances are they to enter the field of play; there is no way someone "stumbles" out onto the field.
So while I am definitely not arguing we should shoot these fans with an intent to kill, I see Tasing as an acceptable means to remove them.
Some have turned to several Amnesty International studies, in which the organization has found over 300 possible Taser-related deaths since 2001, as proof that Tasers have lethal capabilities and are not safe solutions to "less serious" situations of unruliness.
However, what the studies do not show is how many times in that nine-year period Tasers have been effectively discharged against someone. Why is this important?
While it is difficult to find nationwide totals, according to a Boston Globe article from February 22, 2009 by Connie Paige , "Massachusetts communities reported using Tasers in 229 incidents between September 2007 and September 2008." This figure represents the number of incidents in Massachusetts alone .
If we extrapolate the number of uses throughout the country based on this number, even on the low-side, and assume that Tasers are used 1,000 times a year (for a total of 9,000), those 334 deaths since 2001 would only represent a three percent death-rate from the discharge of Tasers.
And, once again, that figure represents a low estimation of the number of discharges. If they are used 2,000 times a year, then those 334 deaths represent only a 1.5 percent death-rate.
Also, it must be recognized that these reported deaths cannot all be conclusively linked to Taser-use. In fact, in one article released by the organization it even states that in only 50 of these cases medical examiners have listed Tasers as the cause or "contributing factor" in these deaths.
That means that the number of conclusive deaths caused by Tasers only represents a death-rate of 0.5 percent! Surely we can accept that figure as a reasonable rate in this products safety.
And as another side-note, what IS a "safe" way of subduing an individual? The use of pepper spray at a Redskins game versus the Eagles resulted in several players and fans getting sick after the spray spread throughout portions of the stadium. Nightsticks have the potential to cause severe physical injuries to the individual. Do we really want to tie security guards' hands behind their backs and force them to chase the individual around wherever they go?
And with all this talk of Amnesty International's reports on possible Taser-related deaths, we forget how many successes there have been in the use of Tasers. Many police officials attribute the use of Tasers to quick resolutions in potentially violent situations, preventing things from escalating beyond a reasonable point.
But back to my main point, this kid knew what he was doing. According to Yahoo! Sports columnist David Brown, he even asked his dad for permission before he ran out onto the field!
By Tasing this kid, the Phillies have sent what I believe to be an acceptable message to all potential nut-jobs: If you trespass, we don't play games. You will be subdued. As entertaining as it is, I'm tired of watching wackos run out onto the field and disturb the flow of the game. Not only is it a waste of time, but it is potentially dangerous.
People can play the "What if" game all they want. What if the kid died? What if he had a seizure? The biggest "What if" should be, "What if he seriously injured a player, coach, or umpire? What if someone wasn't as 'lucky' as Tom Gamboa and didn't escape with just a few cuts and bruises?"
What we have to realize though is this kid wasn't harmed, he was subdued, and no one else got hurt. What more could you ask from a success story? I think this could easily be scored: Taser 1, Naysayers 0.
And ultimately, the fool knew he shouldn't be on the field; he should accept all the responsibility.
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