It sickens me to have to pose this question, but unfortunately, recent events have shown going to a sporting event is no longer a safe thing to do.
I know because I helped compile the data illustrated in the investigative report shown below (click on the video to play it). Tony Kovaleski, with the help of Liz Wagner and Felipe Escamilla, reported on this very unfortunate issue in the package, which aired on NBC Bay Area last Friday.
Here are some key statistics/information reported by Kovaleski in this article (with contribution from yours truly).
- "I was punched repeatedly by three distinct individuals," said 66-year-old Los Gatos resident Manuel Austin Jr. He was at Candlestick Park for the 49ers/Steelers game in December (his first game in seven years).
- "According to data from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, at the Oakland Coliseum last season fans at Raiders games received 87 police citations. There were 144 arrests and 448 ejections."
- The most violent game at Candlestick Park last season was that Steelers game mentioned above. There were 38 fights and 57 ejections.
- Police records show in 2011, there were three assaults, 124 fans booked, and 559 ejections at AT&T Park (don't interfere with the balls that come down the line!)
- Giants/Dodgers games show 26 arrests and 113 ejections, more than any other opposing team (no surprise)
- Friday nights produce more fan-related problems than any other day of the week (maybe CalTrain's allowance of alcohol has something to do with this?)
“What normally leads to trouble is someone who has too much alcohol because it inhibits their ability to make proper decisions,” Lt. Bill Roualdes of the San Francisco Police Department told NBC Bay Area. He monitors incident reports at the Giants games.
I hate to say it, but when you're at any sporting event, you need to be on your best behavior. If you do anything to upset another fan, you could be a victim just like Manuel Austin Jr. (even if it seems like harmless bickering, just ask Bryan Stowe).
Anybody who has the audacity to repeatedly hit a 66-year-old elderly man should be locked up for a long time. Interestingly, the men who beat up Austin only received misdemeanor citations, NBC Bay Area reported.
If you're feeling anxiety about going to see your favorite team, relax. Most likely, nothing is going to happen if you mind your manners and don't provoke other fans.
You can also diminish your chances of getting hurt at a stadium by going to the game on a Sunday or Saturday day game (from my experience).
I can only speak for Giants games, but the bottom line is this. If you want to decrease fan violence or rowdiness, limit the amount of alcohol a fan can consume. This means banning alcohol on CalTrain at all times, or sigh, banning alcohol at all sporting events.
Otherwise, I believe, fan violence is inevitable. Alcohol is powerful, and once it gets into a fan's system, there's little anyone can do to stop fans from acting out.
Still, AT&T Park is generally a safe place to go. Just be careful on a Friday night versus the Dodgers. Beat LA!
Here's the package from the NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit. Chief Investigative Reporter Tony Kovaleski reports. Watch first, then I will pose some questions. Then, you can comment.
View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.
Has stadium violence gone too far? Are you afraid to go to a sporting event? Are you afraid to go to certain sporting events as opposed to others (an NFL game versus a MLB game)?
Were Manual Austin Jr.'s attackers punished enough for what they did?
What should stadium security do to take corrective action? Is there anything they can do, is violence inevitable at stadium?
Lastly, on the flip side, does anyone think these statistics are overblown or misrepresented? Should stadium security be more lax like it was 25 years ago where fans could run on the field after their team wins a big game? Will stadium violence be the same or good down even with looser stadium security?
We may never know the answers to some of these questions, but we can always talk about them.
Have a story idea NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit should take a look at? E-mail my blog mailbag at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the unit at email@example.com