FanDuel - WFBC

February 09, 2007

Violence in sport: After the recent events in Italy, the freakonomics blog asks why aren't US sports fans more violent.

posted by Fence to culture at 08:08 AM - 50 comments

Although I'm not sure it has anything to do with a geographical reason. After all, everyone has heard of English soccer hooligans, but you don't hear about rugby ones. Maybe that has something to do with the traditional class breakdown of participants and fans?

posted by Fence at 08:12 AM on February 09

Too fat? Well - that and the casual fan can't afford the tickets. A Night at the Met costs less than a damn Knicks game.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:12 AM on February 09

I'm not quite sure what to make of it. When there is fan violence, there seems to be a huge public/media poo-pooing of it.

posted by jerseygirl at 08:29 AM on February 09

Too fat? Screw you, Canadian. If it weren't for that faux bacon you keep sending us... Interesting question. Given the options in the link, sounds like it's the territorial and historical rivalries which don't seem to be anywhere near as intense as here. Also, a post says there are other issues, the soccer game is just a catalyst. That sounds like a good answer. On preview: a huge public/media poo-pooing of it. Sarcasm? A policeman was killed in a riot, so I'm not sure it's jut poo-pooing. On edit: I'd also like to point out the citation of the cell in Yankee Stadium and not the other one you clowns always bring up.

posted by SummersEve at 08:32 AM on February 09

I'm guessing that really high ticket prices are a big part of it, not so much because they eliminate all but the higher socioeconomic class -- they don't; people with lower incomes who are passionate about a sport will still go, but it's a once-a-year or once every few years thing for them -- but because everyone who's there has spent a lot of money to be there, and doesn't want their multi-hundred-dollar evening to end after fifteen minutes. You're just not going to get hundreds of people to pay that much money to get in a fight and get arrested.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:34 AM on February 09

poo-pooing was probably the wrong word. I think you used POO in an other thread and it stuck with me. That's right. Your Poo stuck with me. Jokes abound.

posted by jerseygirl at 08:35 AM on February 09

This is truly sad. Where is the outcry? I mean yeah this happened in Sicily but an officer of the law was basically murdered at a soccer game. In America, most assured something like this would be nipped in the bud before it got this out of hand.

posted by BornIcon at 08:40 AM on February 09

BornIcon there is outcry. AFAIK all international matches, not just involving Italy, recently held a minutes silence, wore the black armbands as tokens of mourning. And football games were halted in Italy. They are starting back now, but without spectators, no one is brushing it under the carpet. But how can you nip something in the bud when it has being going for decades, if not longer?

posted by Fence at 09:14 AM on February 09

But how can you nip something in the bud when it has being going for decades, if not longer? And that's a problem. Here in America, an athlete takes a shot at another athlete and he's suspended and/or fined. This insanity needs to be stopped if not now, when?

posted by BornIcon at 09:20 AM on February 09

I think the high ticket prices are the biggest reason. It keeps out a lot of young folks. A Yankees game is a bunch of middle-aged folks and people who got corporate seats. It's just too expensive for a bunch of punks to descend on the place. And, they sure as hell couldn't afford to get drunk there. Another reason is probably that most of the tickets are sold to the local crowd, so the away crowd is a very small minority in most cases.

posted by bperk at 09:23 AM on February 09

If we decide to erupt in violence at sporting events here, rest assured that we Americans will do it the proper way: With sidearms.

posted by mjkredliner at 09:24 AM on February 09

Too fat? Screw you, Canadian. If it weren't for that faux bacon you keep sending us... Reminds me of a good movie.

posted by danjel at 10:47 AM on February 09

I don't really know the answer to why it seems so different in the U.S., but I can see some of the actions by fans in this country escalating closer to that point. There has often been rioting and violence (maybe not death, thankfully) by fans immediately after teams win championships. The ugly situation in Detroit had some close similarities. And more and more, fans are getting into fights or problems with players/coaches on the field, as situations in Chicago (the first base coach being attacked), or Boston (the Red Sox fan who Sheffield thought took a swing at him), to the fight with the Rangers' bullpen and fans a few years ago. These events don't come close to what has historically happened at soccer games in other countries, but it seems we're getting closer and closer every year. But other countries get much more worked up and violent over political issues/elections/etc. than citizens in the U.S. American citizens, overall, enjoy so many freedoms in general, and their quality of life tends to be so much better, it's easier for U.S. fans, even rabid ones, to ultimately keep things in some sort of perspective.

posted by dyams at 11:53 AM on February 09

I think geography is the primary factor. Weren't street gangs in the US originally based from local athletic clubs or ethnic gyms or bars? London soccer teams were similarly originated. Whereas most US cities only had one baseball team (or two that didn't play each other), London has dozens of soccer clubs that played each other several times a year.

posted by Aardhart at 01:32 PM on February 09

There has often been rioting and violence (maybe not death, thankfully) by fans immediately after teams win championships. Actually, there have been deaths in disturbances following championships and other big games. There was a death following the Red Sox World Series win, when fans were rioting and a cop showed some very poor judgment with a so-called non-lethal device and ended up killing a bystander. There was another death, also in Boston, following a Super Bowl victory, when a driver took a turn onto a street where fans were getting a bit too rowdy celebrating; some of them started thumping on his car, he panicked and floored it and ended up killing somebody. I have no idea how many others may have occurred, and I don't believe it's a Boston thing -- I just know some of the details of those because that's where I'm located.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:44 PM on February 09

Remember too that the U.S. is only 231 years old. These countries have ethnic feuds long before the U.S. was even conceived.

posted by bavarianmotorworker at 02:45 PM on February 09

Oh don't sell youself short - you've had a civil war. You're armed to the teeth. America can be just as violent as Europe if you try hard enough. For me the difference is obvious. Rarely (if ever) are there two warring/hated factions in the same place. But I bet if you had a group of 3,000 Browns fans show up to an Eagles game it would get touchy.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:07 PM on February 09

Thank You BMW... Often it takes an education outside of sports to understand them. When I say often, I mean always unless you live in the U.S., then you just need a business degree. Screw you Canadian??? Perhaps you should rent a copy of said "Canadian Bacon".

posted by 2 time mvp of the shittiest team ever at 04:03 PM on February 09

Yeah, but our civil war was 125 years ago, their isnt one person alive from back then. In America there is a greater outcry when stuff like that happens. The girl that got killed in Boston after the World Series, the Malace at the Palace, etc. They were covered by every media outlet, it was discussed in homes, around water coolers, on Oprah probably, I dont know 4 sure, but it was talked about on TV and the media till it was blue in its face. Also, this country is reactionary, almost too reactionary sometimes, when something happens its always, how can we learn from this(always good) how can we change it so it doesnt happen again(usually good) and then what laws can we pass to force others into that line of thought (not always good, sometimes bad) Nothing ever is a freak occurence here, think 9/11, the over-reaction at airports is still insane. They werent adhering to screening and security measures when it happened, now they are (good) but now I have to take my shoes off? show ID to get to my terminal? I cant take a nail file or an open tube of chapstick? (gimme a break) Whats dat prove? America is a country of laws, and to force a certain behavior there is no better way then to get support from the media and TV, then pass a law... if there is a big enuff outcry it happens b4 u even know it. Class has something to do with it, but not enough, hardly any1 here in Indy went to the Super Bowl, but afterwards we filled the dome and the streets of downtown and celebrated, but there were no riots or violence. Why? Well this is the midwest, but more than that its the people here in this city and the state. I would have been surprised to see any of that here, and its like that in most other cities in this country. Maybe it because we have so much to be thankful for in this country that we dont get that worked up, or we fear the consequences of that behavior. For example Raider fans are dicks, and Pittsburgh fans can be, but they arent known for riots or violence either.

posted by dezznutz at 04:13 PM on February 09

I wonder if it has to do with our variety of sports here... I mean, you grow up in Brazil, England... duh guess what sport you're into? That's what you follow 24/7 365... Here? Superbowl's over, NBA All-Star Game next weekend and 2nd half of the season with playoffs, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the boys of summer, World Series and next thing you know Bon Jovi is in Times Square for the NFL Kickoff... For many of us, our allegiance is diluted. We can deny this, but it's quite simple math.

posted by 2 time mvp of the shittiest team ever at 04:25 PM on February 09

hardly any1 here in Indy went to the Super Bowl, but afterwards we filled the dome and the streets of downtown and celebrated, but there were no riots or violence. Why? Because it was too fucking cold!

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:26 PM on February 09

Some of it just may have to do with cultural differences. I'm not bashing any one heritage here but, I've personally noticed that a number of those indivduals who have come into the Good Ol' USA to live (from a wide variety of countries), seem to be a bit lacking in manners and certain social graces. Go into any Warehouse style store (read that as Sam's Club) and you're apt to find a crowd around the free samples. In most cases, the entire family will stand in your way while they scarf down a cocktail weinie...and well after they've noticed you trying to get by! Basically, we have to remember that our ethics and morals are just that, OURS! Trying to compare cultures is a little like comparing Apples to Oranges.

posted by R_A_Mason at 06:46 PM on February 09

Oh don't sell youself short - you've had a civil war. You're armed to the teeth. America can be just as violent as Europe if you try hard enough. For me the difference is obvious. Rarely (if ever) are there two warring/hated factions in the same place. But I bet if you had a group of 3,000 Browns fans show up to an Eagles game it would get touchy. posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 3:07 PM CST on February 9 Weedy, Would you want to mess with someone that may be packing heat? There is no deterence like a martial deterence.

posted by Cave_Man at 06:59 PM on February 09

a cop showed some very poor judgment with a so-called non-lethal device and ended up killing a bystander Your kidding me right? You stand on the business end of an angry mob and try to restore order! The key word is "Less" than lethal. A "bystander" at a riot is what?... That poor cop didnt mean to kill anybody but had to the job he was paid to do. Now he must live with it. I wish monday morning quarterbacking was restricted to football. If we decide to erupt in violence at sporting events here, rest assured that we Americans will do it the proper way: With sidearms. nuff said... Sorry for the thread derailment... We now continue with our regularly scheduled program :)

posted by firecop at 07:31 PM on February 09

If I sat through an entire (boring) soccer game I would be pretty pissed off as well. I am just amazed their are not more riots at tennis tournaments.

posted by 3pounddickey at 07:15 AM on February 10

There is much more entertainment in the US. In some places where soccer is king, it is like religion to them. Take it from there.

posted by Knuckles at 09:37 AM on February 10

If I sat through an entire (boring) soccer game I would be pretty pissed off as well. I am just amazed their are not more riots at tennis tournaments. If you ever sat through an entire soccer match or tennis match, you might have some knowledge ofthe sports in question and not be prone to making ignorant statements about them.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:10 AM on February 10

If we decide to erupt in violence at sporting events here, rest assured that we Americans will do it the proper way: With sidearms. Off topic, when I lived in Boston, I always wondered why bar fights seemed so much more common there than in other places I'd spent significant time in (New York, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinatti). I hypothesized that gun laws in Massachusetts were such that you could be reasonably sure that the other guy was not carrying, so you could get into a scuffle while being sure it wouldn't escalate past that point. The other cities, not so much. Back on topic, I think it has less to do with the cost of the ticket. I just don't think Americans identify with their sports teams on a tribal/familial level that Europeans do with theirs. Things like identity and such are so deeply rooted in the team you support, in a way that is not fathomable to most Americans.

posted by psmealey at 11:02 AM on February 10

Yeah, but our civil war was 125 years ago, Shit, there was another civil war in 1882 that no one told me about? What was that one over? ;-)

posted by psmealey at 11:08 AM on February 10

If I sat through an entire (boring) soccer game I would be pretty pissed off as well. Har. You're like the drunk that stumbles into the cocktail party and tells the same joke over and over again. Have some coffee and someone will call you a cab.

posted by psmealey at 11:14 AM on February 10

No. I would be like the drunkin fan that staggers into a soccer arena and gets pissed off when I realized.....I was at a stupid ass soccer match. Hence the riots. One guy sobers up enough realizes where he is and bam. RIOT.

posted by 3pounddickey at 04:09 PM on February 10

No. I would be like the drunkin fan etc. blah blah blah. Weren't you schooled already? You've got spinach on your teeth and your fly is open. Zip up, have a brush, and read this, this, and this.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:27 PM on February 10

psmeasley, maybe he was talking about the 1882 Chesapeake Bay oyster wars? sorry no link, i'll have to read up.

posted by bavarianmotorworker at 05:52 PM on February 10

I would be like the drunkin fan that staggers into a soccer arena and gets pissed off when I realized.....I was at a stupid ass soccer match. Hence the riots. posted by 3pounddickey Please read the guidelines dickey.

posted by justgary at 06:45 PM on February 10

psmealey... thats what i'm saying. We follow so many sports, and teams, that our attention to each , read devotion... is diluted. Someone's all upset about the Knicks, well, someone else can bring up the Yankees, change the subject, and if that doesn't work, why not the Mets, or the Rangers, or the Islanders, or the Giants, or the Jets, or the... Hey, the Open's begun!!!

posted by 2 time mvp of the shittiest team ever at 10:01 AM on February 11

Couple points to consider: If there is less violence at American sporting events - it ain't because America is less violent. More people are shot in the US and there are more people in prison than in any other Western Nation. I don't think there is a sport in America that is equivalent to soccer. I don't think it's easy to compare to. It's pretty unique. I think hockey in Canada comes closer. Maybe football in some places comes close, too - but soccer is different - don't you think?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:45 AM on February 11

Yea... It's different. On close analysis, I've noticed they use their feet. It's not the sport, that's obvious, or there'd be the most fights at Boxing and Hockey. It's the fans, and why are they different? I think it's because you have a fervour almost like a nationalism of sorts, localized to the one club that those people have been cheering on, almost exclusively, for decades. Give them 12 sports with 3 leagues each and a bunch of teams... well, that fervour gets diluted.

posted by 2 time mvp of the shittiest team ever at 01:47 PM on February 11

On close analysis, I've noticed they use their feet. It's not the sport, that's obvious, or there'd be the most fights at Boxing and Hockey. It's the fans, and why are they different? Perhaps I was too subtle. When I say soccer is different - I am refering to the culture. But the feet thing is true too. Wow. Give them 12 sports with 3 leagues each and a bunch of teams... well, that fervour gets diluted. Well, to be fair - In Britain, they have 3 divisions of soccer alone. Not too mention fervent interest in many other sports on a local and international level. Just check out the BBCSports homepage. Basically, I don't think the answer is a that soccer fans are myopic and American fans have multiple interests. I think most sports fans watch more than one sport - but most have one favorite team and one favorite sport.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 04:19 PM on February 11

In Britain, they have 3 divisions of soccer alone. There are 5 professional divisions in England, 4 in Scotland, at least 1 in Wales (probably more but I can't sort out the Welsh Football League and Cymru Alliance) and the (Northern) Irish Premier League has 3, totalling at least 13 professional divisions in Britain. I'm hoping someone will come along and compare gangs here in the States to hooligan gangs, Ultras, etc., in Europe. My best guess is that there is a sense of belonging with hooligans/Ultras with the club colors and history comparable to gang colors and the generational influence to join. I always hear from fans in Europe that the troublemakers "aren't real fans" and I wonder what exactly that means.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 05:15 PM on February 11

to be fair, you addressed part of the 2nd quote, but not all of it, more importantly the crux of it - different sports (not too many real fans have different favorite teams in the same sport/league). BBC can post 50 sports, fact is "football" rules england. Your post itself, and the one after it, points to this. BBC World is my homepage. Basically, I don't think the answer is a that soccer fans are myopic and American fans have multiple interests. I think most sports fans watch more than one sport - but most have one favorite team and one favorite sport. Poll soccer fans and see what they list their favorite sport as, then compare that with the result of a similar poll with Americans... Wait? We know the answer to that. So I'm not sure why you said that. Maybe you meant Europeans? Still, poll em, Soccer will have a higher % than any one sport when the same question is posed to Americans, and you know this... MAN!

posted by 2 time mvp of the shittiest team ever at 06:58 PM on February 11

I'm not convinced the "sport as religion" argument holds up that well. In some countries like Venezuela, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, baseball seems to be regarded with a similar zeal. Dennis Martinez was dubbed "El Presidente" because of Nicaragua's reaction to his baseball prowess. They had a parade in Venezuela when Johan Santana won the Cy Young Award and he was hailed as a national hero. There is plenty of passion in the Central and South American nations when it comes to the game, yet events like the Caribbean World Series, the WBC, and the like seem to go off without the sort of violence that soccer seems to inspire. I'm also not sure I buy the validity of point #1 in the article. Jets v. Giants, I would guess, draw a pretty good cross of both teams' fans. Rangers, Islanders and Devils fans seem to cohabitate reasonably well. Lakers v. Clippers. Yankees fans outnumber Orioles fans even in Baltimore, but I've never seen as much as a fistfight there. My guess is that it is rather more due to the combination of numbers 2 and 4, plus (relatedly) what was said above about there being more of a family environment. Hard to get a good head going when you get snuffed out at the first string of obscenities.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 07:07 PM on February 11

Poll soccer fans and see what they list their favorite sport as, then compare that with the result of a similar poll with Americans... Wait? We know the answer to that. So I'm not sure why you said that. Given the way you're reading it, I guess I'm still not being clear. My point was, I'm sure much like many baseball fans watch football - many soccer fans likely watch other sports in addition to soccer. Ergo, your idea that the lack of violence in America is due to dilution may not be the case. Because the same option of dilution exists in these places, too. Frankly, I'm in the camp of this sort of violence only being tangentally related to soccer. Soccer stadiums seem to be more of a convenient venue than a cause. There's a relationship obviously - but it seems to me to be akin to turf rather than fan allegiance in the way we North Americans seem to think about it. For what I would guess would be a number of reasons (some of which are pointed out in the thread) - our sports stadiums and team affiliations don't have the same relationship. Crafty Bullpen-paw's could be seen to be in line with this thinking. Isn't it, you dual personality freak wagon, you?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:54 PM on February 11

Isn't it, you dual personality freak wagon, you? Dual personality? If you said that to me at a soccer game, I would tear your hide. Yet, if you said it at a baseball game, I would probably laugh and buy you a beer. Why is that?

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 08:32 PM on February 11

Because in soccer, they use their feet.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:45 AM on February 12

Rangers, Islanders and Devils fans seem to cohabitate reasonably well. I guess it's been a long time since I've been to the Garden for a hockey game, so things must have changed a bit. I will say though, going to games when I was a kid (particularly, Isles/Rangers as well as Flyers/Rangers), there were more fights in the stands than on the ice. As for the relative lack of fan violence in the US, I am totally unconvinced that it has anything to do with dilution. I think there are fundamental sociologal undercurrents at play. I think for more perspective on this, you have to read Bill Buford's Among the Thugs, or even Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch. Football allegiances in Europe are much more like family or tribal allegiances than most Americans can comprehend. The US is such a large country with so much constant migratory movement (ethnic neighborhoods in our cities never seem to last for more than a generation or so, for example), that we would find this sense of tribe of belonging fairly foreign.

posted by psmealey at 09:51 AM on February 12

I will say though, going to games when I was a kid (particularly, Isles/Rangers as well as Flyers/Rangers), there were more fights in the stands than on the ice. that's exactly what i used to say. i went to a rangers/isles game last season for the first time in probably 10 years. there was still a lot of verbal altercations, but not the fisticuffs that i used to see.

posted by goddam at 12:08 PM on February 12

We all seem real good at shutting each other's ideas down, but yet when we do it we get no closer to answering the question. Regardless, if and when we do find the answer, i say we trade it to Denver for draft picks. Maybe it has something to do with the low scores... you know, tension followed by a sort of explosion? I know hockey has low scores, but the aggression is let out throughout the game in other ways. AND take Darts for example. 501 points, no fights, despite being half drunk with darts in they're hands.

posted by 2 time mvp of the shittiest team ever at 12:05 PM on February 13

Perhaps you should rent a copy of said "Canadian Bacon". Greatest movie ever... RIP John Candy

posted by nymetsfan at 05:46 PM on February 14

Greatest movie ever That wasn't even John Candy's best movie, much less the "Greatest ever."

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:00 AM on February 15

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Nope. Not top five.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 07:49 AM on February 15

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