When freedom of speech was written into the constitution of the United States, cheering for competing sports teams was probably not an important consideration. It’s an important point when going to any sporting event though and many fans seem to forget about this right – especially when their team is losing to the visiting team.
I went to the Ducks/Red Wings game as a fan last night with a friend I was introducing to the sport of hockey. It was really fun to explain penalties (and even the concept of a power play) to someone who really enjoyed the game and all the excitement. We started out in very high (3rd row from the top) seats, but they were still closer than my normal seat in the press box and there really isn’t a bad seat in the Honda Center. I stopped by to say hi to my friends in the press box at intermission (on the other side of the arena from our initial seats) and decided to stay on that side of the arena for the rest of the game. We chose some closer seats not directly in front of or behind other fans, since there were so many empty seats. We actually had a row to ourselves for a while, until some fans moved directly in front of us and we decided to move up another row. In that row, we were sitting a few seats away from some guys who were cheering for the Red Wings. They were nice enough to pose for me to take this picture.
These fans were far from sober, but they weren’t obnoxious. They were cheering for their team. Did they make fun of the Ducks for not even being able to score on a power play? Sure. Who wouldn’t? The Ducks had the only power plays in the first two periods, but the Red Wings were winning.
A Kings fan came by to say hi to the fun Red Wings fans and sat diagonally in front of us. They joked around with each other and talked about how tonight they could get along but the next night (when the Red Wings face the Kings in LA) they would clearly be enemies. Everyone understood that, but people were having fun.
Some of the Ducks fans were not happy with the Detroit fans and started picking on the city of Detroit, which is especially funny to me, since I lived in Anaheim for a while and was burglarized twice in 6 months, so my opinion of Anaheim as a place to live isn’t very high. The Kings fan and a couple of the Ducks fans started arguing back and forth and though the Ducks haven’t been around as long and the Kings fan was a lot younger than the Ducks fans (he’s only been alive for about half the Kings’ history), the Kings fan knew a lot more about his team (even going back to Butch Goring, the Kings’ first captain) than the Ducks fans did.
One Ducks fan turned around and told the Red Wings fans they had to be quiet. Are you kidding? Perhaps THAT is part of the reason Ducks fans aren’t loud often enough. This fan seemed to have the Honda Center confused with her local library. Fans should cheer at a game. That’s part of the reason they attend the game. If you want to watch a game in peace and quiet, STAY HOME. When fans go to a game, they should be allowed to cheer (respectfully) as much as they want. If a fan can’t handle that, she or he should stay far away from sporting events. Sports arenas are supposed to be loud. That’s what the players (and most fans I’ve talked to) want. It’s part of what many fans love about sports – they can support their team. When a fan’s team wins, the fan in attendance feels they are a part of the team’s win. They love and support their team.
Personally, I always have more fun as a fan at a game when there are fans rooting for the other team nearby. The playful banter between intelligent fans is part of what I love about sports. I’m used to being picked on at games, since I’m a Yankees fan living in southern California and the Angels are the only team with a consistent winning record against the Yankees since Jeter joined the club. I always have a witty comeback – even in when my team misses the playoffs (though that’s thankfully rare). If I couldn’t take it, I wouldn’t go to the game.
Later, it looked like the Detroit fans were kicked out of the game, but I talked to the security guard and he said he realized that the Red Wings fans had done nothing really wrong and they all he’d asked them to do is make sure they’re seated while play was in progress and the fans decided to leave because of the poor treatment they received from the other fans. I was very happy to hear that the Red Wings fans hadn’t been kicked out because of some disgruntled Ducks fans.
All the Ducks fans in question left the game early. Sure, their team was losing 3-0 (and ended up losing 4-0), but the Kings fan pointed out that he was there for the whole game Monday night when the Ducks shut out (and completely outplayed) the Kings. The Red Wings are the first place team in the western conference. The fact that they were beating the Ducks is not surprising. The Ducks have been completely inconsistent this season. They’ve been streaky (won 6, lost 6, won 3, now they’ve lost 1) and didn’t look good in many of the games they won. I’ll never understand fans who leave early, but I don’t get fans who have no respect for the opposing team’s fans either. If you can’t handle your team losing occasionally and the fans for the opposing team continuing to cheer, don’t go to a game. Stay home and watch the game only with others who support your team. If you can have fun cheering against the other team’s fans (win or lose – no one likes bad sports), go to the game and cheer for your fans. Don’t waste time arguing with the other fans, cheer for your own team. If you don’t like the fact that the visiting fans drown you out, don’t let them. Cheer louder. It’s pretty simple.
I’d like to thank the Red Wings fans and the Kings fan in front of us. Though many of the Ducks fans were rude to you, my friend really had a wonderful time at the game and you’re partly responsible for that. I think I created a new hockey fan with your help and I’m sure she’ll share the sport with others, so who knows how many hockey fans this chain will produce… Have fun at tonight’s game even though you’re now on opposite sides.