Friday, April 11, 2008

It's YouTube's fault! And other odd conclusions on drunken fighting from the Blue Jays

I'm a Blue Jays fan (their embarrassing sweep by the Athletics notwithstanding), I’ve seen three games thus far this young season and I intend to see many, many more before the fall. And I understand the problems Jays CEO Paul Godfrey is taking about here:

The chairman and chief executive officer of the major league club was reviewing the public-relations wreckage of two fight-filled nights in the stands - and tightening a zero-tolerance policy for illicit booze and brawling…

But on two occasions at the Rogers Centre in this young season, what may have started as a party in the stands degenerated into an ugly, scrappy disturbance. Each time about 100 rowdies were ejected.

"The entertainment is supposed to be on the field, not the stands," he said.

Indeed. I was at the home opener, I usually sit in the 500 level, and I saw some of this behaviour. I was also at Tuesday’s game, and saw the brawls as well, although they were on the other side of the stadium. On my side, while I had a bunch of inebriated college-types they confined themselves to really annoying taunts they thought were pretty clever. Can’t say I agreed, but no biggie.

It’s the booze though, says Godfrey. Probably. Tuesday’s game was part of the team’s Twoonie-Tuesdays promotion, where tickets in the upper bowl go for $2. Godfrey says the Jays are going to stop serving the booze in the upper bowl, and may scrap the $2 Tuesdays all together. They say they’re also going to crack down on stopping fans from bringing booze into the stadium.

The crackdown on booze smuggling makes sense, although one wonders why they weren’t doing that already? I’ll note though, despite Godfrey’s badmouthing of the fans in the cheapseats, the only time in my 50+ Jays game over three years I’ve seen fans with outside booze at a game, it was two suit-wearing Bay Street douchebags in $50 seats in the 100 level, not in the 500.

Banning alcohol sales isn’t the answer. And I say that as someone that doesn’t even drink at the ballpark. I don’t like beer, and it doesn’t seem like a wine sipping activity. But the link to the booze sales, $2 Tuesdays and rowdiness is somewhat tenuous to me. First of all, the tickets may the $2, the beers are not. Regular price on those tickets is about $10. So, you’re saving $8. That MIGHT be enough for one small beer, I haven’t checked lately. If someone can afford to get drunk on $10 beers, the ticket price isn’t a barrier for them.

The fact is, they’re probably coming drunk. So, in addition to cracking-down on booze smuggling, make like an airline and don’t admit intoxicated fans to the stadium in the first place. Most of the annoying taunters in my section Tuesday came pre-inebriated. I’m sure the rowdy fighters did too. And when it comes to alcohol sales, limit sales to one beer at a time, insist on ID and don’t sell to the underage, even if they are attractive young ladies.

Then there’s this gem from Godfrey:
The sudden surge in drunkenness and fighting in the cheap seats at Toronto Blue Jays games may be a YouTube phenomenon, with rowdy, attention-starved fans filming themselves and posting the videos on the Internet site, Paul Godfrey says.

…"Some people go, film their experiences and then call out to friends and unknowns alike to come down and join their party."

Really, its YouTube’s fault? I wonder if YouTube will be replacing video games as the source of all of society’s ills. It’s an interesting theory Paul, but drunken idiots fought at sporting events before online video sharing, that hasn’t changed.

Anyway, forget all this attention to drunken rowdy fans. Why in the hell do the Jays play great against top teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, and then tank against teams like the Athletics? That’s the question we should be wondering about.

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Mike514 said...

The 100 level costs $50? Compared to hockey, that's a friggin' bargain. On the other hand, 'spos tickets used to sell at $20 for VIP seats. That, of course, is back when we actually had a team.

2$ tickets are tempting: Cheaper than movie, hockey, etc. Why not round up some friends and head over? Oh, gee, this game is boring. I forgot how boring baseball can be. What else can we do in this stadium? Alcohol? Yeah, sure, bring it over.

Mike514 said...

I should say that I'm not defending the drunken fans. I'm just trying to understand their line of thinking: Cheap entertainment turns out not to be so entertaining. Plan B: get drunk.

2$ tickets are to encourage new fans, who normally don't goto games. However, once they're there, they rememeber why they don't usually goto games: because they don't enjoy baseball. So they turn to alcohol.

I had lots of trouble dragging friends to Expos games. And even when I did, they wanted to leave after the 3rd. Although in their defense, they didn't start drunken brawls...

Jeff said...

$50 is an average, there's more expensive seats and there's some cheaper, depending on the game.

Maybe some people turn to drink from boredom. I've found though that most of them show-up half-sloshed already. Weeding them out at the door, and controlling alcohol sales in the stadium, should mitigate most of it.

And playing more exciting baseball :)

900ft Jesus said...

I just did a post on the YouTube beating of a teen - where eight teens planned and executed a severe, brutal bating of a fellow teen for the sole purpose of posting it on YouTube.

YouTube isn't entirely to blame for that incident, and even less to blame - in my opinion - for the one you mention here, but it certainly was a factor in the teen beating.

I don't know what the answer is - certainly not knee jerk censorship whcih would also take away from looking at other root problems that lead to such violence, but I think we really need to look at some legislation that will help protect victims' rights not to have their pain plastered all over the net, and not promote such acts of brutality as entertainment.

Tough line to draw, though, because as pale at ACR points out, posting some videos has brought some things out that needed to be brought out (SPP protest, taser videos...)

Anonymous said...

Don't blame the messenger folks. These morons who got drunk and acted like the brainless twits they are would do the same thing at a funeral. Society as a whole is far to quick in pointing a finger at some outside influence as the cause of sociopathic behaviour. All that does is let cretins like this find a way to escape responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, this attitude, that is never the resposibility of the individual for his actions, is what has turned our justice system into the sick joke which it has become.