Disrespectful Things Fans Do

Matt Haupert@@matthaupFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2014

Disrespectful Things Fans Do

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    There's an unwritten code of conduct for fans of sports teams, and it's not a code that's hard to follow:

    1. Cheer and boo all you want, but don't involve yourself in the outcome of the actual game.

    2. Remember that messing up on the field does not make one a worthless human being off the field.

    3. Don't mock players for getting hurt, they can't help it and it's not funny.

    4. Don't be an idiot.

    It's astonishing, though, how many fans seem entirely incapable of following any one of these rules, particularly the last.

    Fans send threats to players. Fans riot. Fans get in the way of the games being played.

    And far too often, fans seem to ruin the good fun that is intended to come from watching sports.

    The following examples reveal the dark side of being a sports fan—the embarrassing disrespect that we're capable of showing.

    When you're finished reading, please continue to love your team passionately and make sports the most important thing in your life.

    Just don't be an idiot.

Urinating on Art Modell's Grave

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    Steve Ruark/Associated Press

    It's understandable if fans of the Cleveland Browns aren't fans of former owner Art Modell, who chose to move the franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore and change the name to the Baltimore Ravens.

    But at the end of the day, a football team is just a football team, and an owner is just an owner.

    One disgruntled Browns fan took his frustration way too far, putting on a Cleveland jersey and filming himself urinating on Modell's grave.

    Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun explained the situation:

    The fan posted a video of the incident on YouTube last week under the username "BrownsFan4Life." In the video, he tears off an Ed Reed Ravens jersey to reveal a Browns jersey and then apparently urinates out the bottom of his pants leg using a catheter and a tube.

    'I’m [urinating] on Art’s grave,' the man says in the video, before going into a diatribe ending with Modell’s own words about how he 'had no choice' but to move the Browns to Baltimore.

    As reported in the same article, Art's son, David, provided apt perspective for the incident:

    To some people, the man in that grave is Art Modell. But to me, my brother, my children, and my wife, that’s their father. That’s their grandfather. Can any of your readers imagine, for one second, seeing someone do that to your parents’ grave?

    Football is a game and football is a business. But Art Modell, and anyone who plays or works in the league, is a human being—something we too often forget.

Seahawks Fans Throw Popcorn at NaVorro Bowman

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Cheer when the opposing quarterback gets sacked. Cheer when your team gets an interception. Cheer when the other team misses a field goal or fumbles the ball and gives you a victory.

    But when a player gets hurt?

    That's not something anybody should be celebrating. That's much bigger than a game—it's about a man and his health, his career and his life.

    Seahawks fans showed a major lack of class when they decided to throw popcorn at the 49ers' NaVorro Bowman after he injured his knee and was carted off the field in last year's NFC Championship game.

    Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was not amused, calling out these fans in his article for The MMQB:

    That’s as low as it gets. I’m sure whoever did this is in a small minority of fans, because I don’t think that kind of action is an accurate representation of the character of the 12th man. NaVorro Bowman is a great player who plays the game the right way. When he went down, I dropped to a knee and prayed for him. He deserves better than having food thrown at him as he’s carted off a field. All players deserve better than that.

    As passionate as fans get about wins and losses, fans need to remember to separate enemies on the field from enemies in real life.

    Hate the player, respect the person.

Braves Fans Throw Trash on Field

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    Todd Kirkland/Associated Press

    When Major League Baseball added a second Wild Card team and a one-game playoff in 2012, they knew they were creating drama.

    But maybe not this kind of drama.

    With their season on the line, the Atlanta Braves were fighting to stay alive against the St. Louis Cardinals, down 6-3 in the eighth inning.

    Ben Culpepper of ABC 33/40 explains what happened next:

    With two men on base, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit a pop-fly into shallow left field only to have the Cardinal's shortstop and left fielder watch it fall to the ground.  But the umpire made a late infield-fly call despite the ball being well into the outfield, ruling Simmons automatically out.

    Atlanta manager Freddi Gonzalez and fans protested the call in disgust and the field of play was trashed, literally.  Play was delayed for close to 15 minutes to pick up all the trash from the field.

    Fans threw beer cans, bottles and more onto the field in a display of sportsmanship—or lack thereof—that is utterly embarrassing.

    Hang your head when your team loses. Complain to your friends about a bad call. Cry yourself to sleep when you get home.

    Throwing trash onto the field of play is disrespectful to your own team, disrespectful to your own beloved stadium and disrespectful to the game of baseball itself.

    Grow up, folks. It's just a game.

Bieber Stands on Blackhawks Logo

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    Joel Ryan/Associated Press

    On a lighter note, is it really any surprise that Justin Bieber is the worst sports fan in America?

    Before performing at the United Center last July, Bieber hung out in the locker room and snapped some photos of the recently won Stanley Cup while standing on the Blackhawks logo on the locker room floor.

    Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago explained the offense, clarifying that: "The Blackhawks, like most NHL teams, have an unwritten rule that no one is permitted to step on their logo in the dressing room. The logo is often roped off throughout the playoffs."

    Blackhawks star Andrew Shaw was not amused:

    Bro no stepping on the logo @justinbieber that's money on the board! #gutty pic.twitter.com/DtgRo4loMn

    — Andrew Shaw (@shawz15er) July 10, 2013

    In a life that has been tainted by multiple run-ins with the law, this was without a doubt the biggest offense of his career.

Argentina Fans Mock Neymar's Injury

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    We've touched on the topic of mocking an injured player one too many times on this list already, and we could do so again many more times if we really wanted to.

    In an even more recent example, Argentina football fans took to the streets to celebrate the injury to Brazil's Neymar by waving a model spine in the air and cheering.

    Neymar is an icon for the sport. He's one of the best players in the world, and one of the game's most passionate athletes.

    A treat to watch. A treat to play against. A treat for world football.

    When he went down, fans across the world shed a collective tear and lamented the now inevitable fate of the Brazilian team.

    Everyone, that is, except these fans.

    I suppose it is right and just that Argentina ended up losing the World Cup final against Germany.

Canucks Fans Riot After Loss

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    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    As a kid, I did a lot of mini golfing with my dad. I never did very well, and I always pouted intensely and cheated expertly as soon as things started to go wrong.

    This was the time that I first became acquainted with the term "sore loser."

    Having been accused of being a sore loser thousands of times since, I think I have the authority to accurately say that after losing the Stanley Cup in 2011, Vancouver Canucks fans were very sore losers. They rioted in the streets and brought chaos to a town that a few hours earlier was filled with optimism and anticipation.

    CBC News reported on violent and outrageous reaction:

    Riot police fired tear gas, pepper spray and flash bombs in downtown Vancouver Wednesday night to try to disperse angry rioters who set cars on fire, looted stores and taunted police officers after the Canucks' 4-0 Stanley Cup final loss to the Boston Bruins.

    Police cars were burned and dozens were injured.

    Professional sports can be a wonderful asset for a community, especially when the team has success.

    Unfortunately, riots in the street that result in real chaos, violence and injury show that sports, while at heart a simple form of game and entertainment, have the capacity to reveal a dark, dark side to all of us.

Construction Worker Buries Red Sox Jersey in Yankee Stadium

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Well, if you're going to disgrace a brand new baseball stadium, I guess you might as well be creative about it.

    According to Sushil Cheema of The New York Times: "A Red Sox-rooting construction worker hoping to curse the Yankees’ new stadium [while it was being built] had buried a Red Sox jersey at the site."

    After getting a tip about the attempted curse, construction workers found the spot and uncovered a David Ortiz No. 34 jersey, which was auctioned off for charity.

    Well, that's why you don't hire construction workers that root for the rival team.

    At the end of the day, though, let's be honest—with a rich history that includes an unprecedented 27 World Series titles—maybe a little curse wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

Alabama Fans Send Death Threats to Cade Foster

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    It is beyond sad, beyond shameful and beyond disgusting when fans decide that a frustrating loss means the players at fault no longer deserve to live.

    Especially when those players are college kids trying their best to help their beloved team and school.

    Alabama's stunning last-second loss to Auburn this year, costing them a shot at another BCS title, was nothing short of gut-wrenching.

    During the game, kicker Cade Foster missed three field goals before being replaced by Adam Griffith, who missed the 58-yard field goal that resulted in the decisive Auburn touchdown return.

    Had any one of Foster's field goals been good, Alabama would have won the game and completed an undefeated season.

    Fans realized this and attacked the kicker on Twitter, threatening and cyberbullying him.

    Bernie Augustine of the Daily News picked up on the since-deleted tweets, which are pretty despicable.

    Oh, how easy it is to be tough behind the protection of your Twitter handle.

Rangers Fans Cover Memorial Statue in Trash

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    Sharon Ellman/Associated Press

    The Texas Rangers made an extremely noble gesture when they erected a memorial statue of fan Shannon Stones and his son outside of their stadium after the fan had tragically fallen to his death while trying to catch a ball at a game in 2011.

    This year, on opening day, Rangers fans made a mockery of the whole thing by covering the statue in beer cans and bottles.

    This is the statue of the Rangers fan who fell to his death at the ballpark in '11. Look what people did to it today. pic.twitter.com/zaZgRnMl7W

    — Kami Mattioli (@kmattio) April 1, 2014

    The Rangers took to Twitter to apologize for the whole thing, but it was too late.

    Fans had already proven that laziness outweighed respect, and a nod to one of the most tragic moments in sports of recent years had been turned into an oversized trash can.

    How difficult is it to show a little respect at the cost of your immediate convenience?

Alabama Fan Poisons Tree

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    Michael Chang/Getty Images

    Rivalries are good and rivalries are fun—when they stay on the field.

    In 2010, Harvey Updyke Jr. decided to make the rivalry between Auburn and Alabama about a lot more than what happens on the field.

    Updyke, an Alabama fan, poisoned a group of famous, generations-old trees on Auburn's campus where fans would gather to celebrate football victories. The poison was so strong that the trees could not be saved.

    Phil Gast and Joe Sutton of CNN explained how the story first broke:

    Authorities first learned of the herbicide after a caller who identified himself as 'Al from Dadeville' phoned into a Birmingham, Alabama, radio talk show, saying he had poisoned the renowned oaks after Auburn won a contentious November 2010 football game against the University of Alabama. 'Al' ended the call with 'Roll Damn Tide,' a battle cry for the University of Alabama.

    Updyke has since pleaded guilty and served time in prison. Unfortunately, no amount of time in prison would ever be enough to bring back trees that were old, beloved and rich with tradition.

    Roll Tide.

On-Field Streakers

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    While most of the disrespectful acts on this list are disgusting and offensive, the classic act of fans running across the field of play during a game is at least a little entertaining.

    It's disrespectful, it interrupts the flow of the game, potentially puts players at risk and wastes everybody's time.

    But let's take a quick break from all the heavy stuff and celebrate what's rightfully awesome.

    That being said, take a look at the Instagram video above. Watch this ambitious Diamondbacks fan—far braver than you could ever hope to be—juke out the security guards and run like a man who has no purpose in life but to run.

    Now look me in the eye and tell me you weren't rooting for him the entire time.

    Can't do it? Didn't think so.

    Think I'm a genius? An idiot? Let me know on Twitter.