Drawing the line: a letter to Major League Baseball

Rowan McEvoy, Staff Writer

Dear Major League Baseball,

The rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers has always been passionate. Fans make the rivalry passionate through constant support and devotion, but recently this passion has been amplified beyond a level of acceptability.

In 2011, two Dodgers fans attacked Giants fan Bryan Stowe after a Dodgers game outside the Los Angeles stadium. Stowe sustained severe head injuries and was put into a medically induced coma. He may never fully recover. In addition, an attacker stabbed Dodgers fan Jonathan Denver to death after a Giants game earlier this year just outside AT&T Park in front of his father and brother.

Violence merits no place in any rivalry. To some fans, sports represent more than a game, becoming an all-consuming devotion. Yes, this kind of enthusiasm makes the Giants-Dodgers rivalry special, but when it causes fans to disregard morals and harass opposing supporters, a line needs to be drawn. When rivalries turn to violence and permanent injuries, you go too far. The fact that America’s pastime now prompts devoted fans to resort to violence must set off an alarm somewhere. That alarm now sounds here.

As is apparent from your endless stream of disagreements over anything relating to baseball, fans argue at the drop of a pin. But what does make them argue so avidly over matters such as these? If you haven’t managed to notice, the element in sports that makes them chasms of confrontation is the nature of the games themselves.

Unlike almost all other forms of entertainment, sports contain two potentially controversial qualities: regional ties and competition. A Taylor Swift concert, on the contrary, does not. Since sports originated, teams have represented groups of people. Because of this representative factor, people feel closely tied to certain teams.

This is where competition ties in. Sports contests decide a winner and a loser, and as evolution taught humans, success is favorable. In the days of early man, the hunter who killed an animal got to eat, while his unsuccessful acquaintance gnawed hungrily on the bark of a tree or didn’t eat at all. Between a team and this success stands only the opponent, making the opponent the natural enemy. When this urge to succeed eclipses the boundaries of the sports contest and turns into real world feeling within the people whom the teams represent, rivalries are born.

The Giants-Dodgers rivalry formed in such a way. Many years of high stakes games turned into real world emotions, and created numerous fan altercations such as the ones involving Bryan Stowe and Jonathan Denver. But the fact that violence now permeates the honorable membrane of baseball is why I must implore you to stop for a second and contemplate what is best for the future of the game.

While supporting their team, fans often forget their place in the systems that are sports. Players are the ones who play the actual games. Players battle each other to win championships. Players control what happens. Fans simply root for their team.

When exceeding their intended role in sports, fans overlook the consequences of their actions. While arguing over a rivalry bears the potential to add to the fun, violence is where the line must be drawn. Violence adds absolutely nothing to a rivalry except for medical bills, lawsuits and potential life-long consequences.

Sadly, the Giants-Dodgers rivalry now contains this violent element. Attacks such as those on Bryan Stowe and Jonathan Denver may continue if something is not done. Because of this, I offer a solution: take the rivalry down a notch, and start punishing fans who don’t comply.

Players are punished for unruly behavior during games, so why shouldn’t fans be as well? Fans congregate in the greatest numbers at games, so teams can ramp up security both inside the stadium and out. Officials can monitor and if necessary detain fans who cause violent conflicts as far away from the stadium as the parking lots. Since both the Bryan Stowe and Jonathan Denver attacks happened in the vicinity of a ballpark, they could have been prevented with increased security.

Although both the Giants and the Dodgers represent entire cities, the contests between them are no more than games. The Giants-Dodgers rivalry is important, but more important than someone’s life? No. At the end of the day, you need to set your priorities straight and acknowledge this. If baseball’s future is to remain bright, you need to institute some serious changes.


Rowan McEvoy