Although fan behavior has become very poor in recent years (Take Me Out to the Brawl Game, June 17), I personally feel it is not entirely the fans' fault. Many of them, including myself, have grown up with teams whose rosters did not change dramatically from season to season. But these days one hesitates even to buy a poster of a so-called star because one doesn't know whether the uniform he has on in the picture will be the same one he will wear the next year. Players no longer feel loyalty to one particular home team or crowd; instead they pay homage only to the team that comes up with the most money.
We spectators have finally opened our eyes to this widespread commercialism. We are now aware that super teams either do not exist or are quickly disbanded because of the lure of higher salaries elsewhere. But we still want real competition, with real emotion from the players. Being a professional athlete is not just a job, as Dick Allen put it, but an enviable way of life to many Americans and a goal for our young athletes to shoot for.
What are we teaching our youth today? To come out of college as spoiled brats? Athletes used to come from the college ranks begging for a chance to play pro ball. Now they dictate to the pros what they want. Players brought out of slums and made into stars turn around and bite the hands that fed them. Many other players have never had that chance; they spend their lives in minor leagues, hoping for a break. In the end, perhaps these are the true athletes, the true professionals, the ones who play the sport for what it is, not just for what it can do for them. They are the real winners.
ROBERT J. HANLEY
Not once did you mention the inflated price the fan must pay to get into the ball park. If I must pay half a week's rent to see a second-rate game, I am entitled to some action—on the field or in the stands.
O. W. OLSON
Again SPORTS ILLUSTRATED not only hit the nail on the head but drove it through the wood. Your article on unruly fans was all too true. As a sports photographer, I have been a victim of fan stupidity. At a University of Toledo-Central Michigan basketball game at CMU I had to run for cover after being hit squarely with a full can of pop, having my camera kicked out of my hands, being verbally abused and having several articles stolen from my camera bag.
I go to a baseball game to relax, to set everything else aside, but it is getting so bad you can't enjoy a game without having a streaker, a stripper or a jerk running around on the field. These people should be fined heavily and made an example of. And trash should not be thrown on the field. I attended a recent doubleheader at Veterans Stadium and saw a nun get hit on the head twice by soda dropped from the top deck.
Thanks to Ron Fimrite for a fine article. I hope he got his idea across to the "fans": behave!
MARK C. HARTSOE
As long as Ron Fimrite's statement remains true, i.e., that "violent action and reaction are everyday facts of life," we will be forced to put up with incidents at athletic events such as the one in Cleveland.
Why are today's sports fans more hateful and harmful than they used to be? Because of half a century of violence in movies and a quarter of a century of violence on TV.
Ron Fimrite wrote, "There has been beer in the ball parks for years..." The Washington Senators had no beer at their old park until the 1956 season. The Pittsburgh Pirates banned beer at old Forbes Field. It was a pleasure to attend games at those parks. The answer is to ban the beer at all spectator sports. It's as simple as that.
D. E. SMITH