When Sports Fans Attack

The 10 worst moments in American sports fandom
by Patrick Emmel

Being a sports fan can be a great thing. There’s a sense of joy and camaraderie when people band together with the same hopes and dreams that their team will become champions of everything. That’s right, everything. Friends and strangers alike welcome the chance to celebrate the victories and console each other through the defeats. At its best, sports fandom brings out the best in humanity, like a giant Woodstock love-in where everyone wears team jerseys instead of rolling around in the mud naked.

Then, there is the Dark Side of sports fans. It is a place of fear and, like the great philosopher Yoda once said:

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

A fan never loses their love for their team. The team is all. However, the players and coaches of the team are not a part of that unconditional love, particularly if they’re losing. That is when fans turn ugly.

Here are some of the worst events sports fans have instigated in recent years, to rival teams, their own cherished players, and even their own cities…

#10) Texans Fans Burn a Matt Schaub Jersey Outside of Stadium

The 2013 football season has not been kind to Houston Texans Quarterback Matt Schaub. In 4 straight games, Schaub had thrown a pick-6. The third came against the Seattle Seahawks with 2:51 left in the game, and sent the game into overtime, where the Texans eventually lost.

This interception by Schaub led one Texans fan to buy a Schaub jersey off the back of another fan for $200 in order to soak it in lighter fluid and light it up in the parking lot of Reliant Stadium.

A lesser professional athlete could have taken this action personally and lashed out at his fans, but Schaub exhibited class when asked about the jersey burning.

“I don’t think anything about that. That’s someone’s choice. My goal is just to make sure that when we get done with this thing again this year, he’s going back out and he’s going to get one to wear.”

Even if Matt Schaub won’t say it himself, I will. Bad form, sir. This is the starting quarterback that steered your team into the Divisional Playoff game 2 years in a row. He deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt.

You can see the NSFW jersey burning video HERE.

#9) Car in Houston has Fake Matt Schaub in Trunk

Yup, we continue our coverage of horrible sports fans with Matt Schaub and his painful season in the NFL this year. Painful in more ways than one, but we’ll get to that later.

This latest instance in fan insanity had to do with a car driving around the Houston area. Smashed into the trunk was a prop body wearing a Schaub jersey.

Now, it is unknown if the driver was attempting to show how he planned to drag Matt Schaub back to his/her house and force him to watch countless film of clutch quarterbacks or if he was attempting to bury the body, but this is just too much. Not only is it scary that someone would think of this joke, but it could lead to police pulling you over again and again over a prop, and who really has the time for that?

Is it a joke? Yes. Is it in slightly bad form? Yes, but only because, really, who knows how far angry fans are willing to go?

#8) Sixers Fans Cheer Bulls Joakim Noah Injury

Most of us sports fans may joke about hoping for injuries to rival teams, but only the most bloodthirsty fans truly wish for them. It’s an athlete’s job to play a game for our entertainment. To hope for an injury to that player that will affect their livelihood is akin to wishing that the person in front of you on the check-out line keels over so you can pay for your groceries quicker. It’s just plain evil.

Some fans go as far as to cheer during a game when a rival player is injured. This happened in 2012 during round 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs. While attempting a lay-up, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah rolled his ankle, and was met by cheers from the home crowd fans of the Philadelphia 76ers.

To their credit, most fans hushed up, and even groaned when the replay show just how bad the ankle twisted. It still makes me wince.

The injury, cheering, and crowd lambasting by the play-by-play broadcasters can be seen HERE.

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#7) Eagles Fans Cheer Michael Irvin’s Career-ending Injury

What’s worse than fans cheering the injury of a rival player? How about cheering an injury that ends a rival player’s career as a professional athlete?

That’s what Eagles fans did in 1999 when Hall of Fame Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin landed on his head after making a spectacular catch and laid motionless on the turf. He had suffered a spinal cord injury, and had to be carted off.

To be fair, fans didn’t know that this was the end of Irvin’s career. If they did, who knows? They may have cheered even louder. City of Brotherly Love indeed.

Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell even stated:

“This, in terms of bad taste, was as bad as it gets.”

I’ll cheer to that.

Photo by NFL via Getty Images

Thus far in the article we’ve learned Texas takes football maybe a little too seriously, and Philadelphia fans are the worst. So nothing new, really. Here, enjoy the charming Evan Mathis instead, and his tale of terrible player behavior.

#6) Texans Fans Cheer Matt Schaub’s Injury

Fans just can’t get enough of Matt Schaub this season. In week 6 this year, Schaub went down with an ankle injury against the St. Louis Rams. What did Texans fans do? They cheered. To celebrate an injury to their starting quarterback.

Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson had some choice words about that:

“You don’t cheer about nobody being injured. I don’t care who it is. Guys lay their bodies on the line out there on that field, and some guys get injuries and it affects them their whole lives.”

Even Ram defensive end Chris Long, who inadvertently caused Schaub to leave the game, wasn’t impressed by Texans fans:

Karma came back to bite Texans fans in the ass, however, as back-up quarterback T.J. Yates continued Schaub’s pick-6 tradition by throwing one himself on the same drive that he replaced Matt Schaub. Seriously. It was 6 plays later, counting penalties.

Wasn’t it just last year that Texans fans were cheering for Matt Schaub because he was such a badass that he got a piece of his ear ripped off like Evander Holyfield? How soon they forget.

#5) Chiefs Fans Cheer Matt Cassel’s Injury

In minor defense of Texans fans, they could have been playing a bit of “monkey see, monkey do” because Chiefs fans were doing the same exact thing last year.

In 2012, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was briefly knocked unconscious in a game against the Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium. And what did Chiefs fans do when they saw their starting quarterback’s limp figure laying motionless on the ground? They cheered. And cheered. and cheered. They didn’t stop cheering until Cassel was finally walked into the tunnel towards the locker room.

The incident prompted Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston to give one of the greatest defending speeches that not only relates to Cassel’s injury, but the humanity of football players in general. It particularly resonates now, during these times when concussion history and effects have been illuminated.

“It’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve never, ever — and I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams — I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than at that moment right there. I get emotional about it because these guys, they work their butts off. Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people. Hey, if he’s not the best quarterback, he’s not the best quarterback, and that’s OK, but he’s a person. And he got knocked out in a game and we’ve got 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out… We are not gladiators and this is not the Roman Colosseum. This is a game. This is a game that’s going to cost us a lot down the road. That’s OK. We picked it. We deserve it. I don’t want your pity. But we’ve got a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s OK.”

Well said, Mr. Winston. Well said indeed.

#4) Steve Bartman

Normally, sports fans lash out at players on rival teams, fans of rival teams, and even players on their own beloved team. Then there is the story of a Cubs fan forced to endure the wrath of fellow Cubs fans.

In Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins, The Cubs, were leading 3-0 in the top of the 8th inning with one out. Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo hit a fly ball in foul territory that looked to be a makeable out for Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. Instead, a young man wearing a Cubs cap and headphones reached out for the foul ball, deflecting it out of Alou’s reach and allowing the inning to continue, where the Marlins promptly scored 8 runs and ended up winning the game, and on to win the series.

That young man was Steve Bartman.

This innocent reach for a foul ball led to Bartman being escorted out of Wrigley Field by security to protect him from an entire ballpark of rabid fans in agony over missing another chance to see their Cubbies go to the World Series.

The insanity didn’t stop there. Bartman was later placed under police protection when his name and address were made public on internet message boards, leading to multiple death threats and hate letters. The notorious “Bartman Ball” was auctioned off for $113,824.16 and then detonated by Harry Caray’s restaurant. And THEN things got weird. The steakhouse announced a plan to make a spaghetti sauce out of the ball’s remains and serve it to a Cubs fan who would consume, digest, and excrete the curse, thus delivering Chicago from the hands of an angry lord. That is some voodoo blood cult nonsense right there.

Through it all, Steve Bartman showed just how hardcore a Cubs fan he was. Many lucrative monetary offers came his way over the years, from autograph signings to Super Bowl commercials, but he declined each and every one. Why? Because he’s a die-hard Cubs fan who finds no happiness in the events that transpired, both for himself and his beloved Cubbies.
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#3) Fans of 49ers and Raiders Take Sports to a New Low

Crazed sports fans don’t just attack players. They have just as much anger toward rival fans. Being a Yankees fan, I’ve seen the evil side of fandom in my relation to Red Sox fans. Long-time friends become the targets of snark and ridicule whenever the two teams meet. I don’t know what makes it happen. Maybe it’s some sort chemical anomaly, sportosterone injecting itself into the blood whenever a rival fan is near, making people more arrogant. Mostly, it is in good fun.

All the fun stops, however, when 49ers fans and Raiders fans come across each other.

The latest fan melee between the fans of these two teams happened in 2011 at Candlestick Park. Multiple fights broke out in the stands. One man was found beaten into unconsciousness in a restroom. Two men were found shot in the parking lot.

All of this during a football game. The kicker? It was only a preseason game.

Interestingly enough, the 49ers and Raiders have not played each other since. Not even another preseason game.


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#2) Canadians Riot in Vancouver after Canucks Lose Stanley Cup Finals

What do you do when your team loses a championship game? Most fans are content to go to their local bar and cry into their beers about how great the season was. Some fans use the loss to fuel their hope that next year will be their year.

And then you have Canadian hockey fans.

trans When Sports Fans Attack
trans When Sports Fans AttackIn 2011, a riot broke out in Vancouver following the Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. This wasn’t your average “look at all the people in the streets, they must be part of an OCCUPY Movement” riot. This was a full-on, fire and glass, Los Angeles-type riot. The city had set up a fan zone near the Rogers Arena where TVs were set up for hockey fans to watch the games during the series. Approximately 70,000 people attended each event until Game 7, which held approximately 100,000 people.

100,000 people that weren’t too happy when the Canucks lost.

The riot lasted for about 4 hours. During that time, at least 140 people were injured, one critically, 4 people were stabbed, 101 people were arrested, one passenger vehicle was over-turned, two police squad cars were set on fire, and several businesses suffered damage and looting.

Who knows how the riot would have went if the Canucks won?
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#1) Texans Fan Visits Matt Schaub’s House

Haven’t had enough about Matt Schaub in 2013? Neither have I. It’s amazing that all of these fan occurrences happened in the span of a few weeks, but it’s true, and would lead a lesser man to probably get the hell out of Dodge. Well, Houston. But not Matt Schaub.

Before he was cheered for his injury, Matt Schaub was visited by fans on October 8th at his home. Yes, his home. One fan allegedly screamed at Schaub from his driveway while another fan took pictures of Schaub’s house. The people left before the police were able to arrive, and nothing extreme came from the incident.

I’ve covered shootings, riots, and death threats, but what makes this visit to Matt Schaub’s house so chilling is that people took their sports fandom to such a level that they would go to an athlete’s home to personally berate him and his family. That’s low. That’s ridiculous. That’s f$%king scary.

An icy rivalry indeed.

An icy rivalry.

Patrick Emmel is a die-hard sports fan, but you won’t find him rifling through athletes’ garbage cans. Unless he’s “lost his wallet.” You can see more of his work at Sports Jeer, The Inept Owl, or heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.

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How much would Scott Norwood’s foot go for at auction?

Like the ugly side of sports? Patrick covered some of the best, and worst, sports rivalries in history, and researched some of the most sadistic items in sports memorabilia.

More from The Man Behind Patrick Emmel

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