For years, sports fans (including football fans) have regarded the buying of a ticket to a sporting event as the acquisition of a license to say and do whatever they damn well please. Sports fans (especially football fans) are now on notice.
There are consequences for acting like morons.
Recent incidents in the NBA have shown that fans can and will be held accountable, with something more than an ejection from the game. Recently, a fan who threw popcorn at Russell Westbrook was banned from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. In Boston, a fan who threw a bottle of water at Kyrie Irving was arrested and faces prosecution.
Most recently, a fan ran onto the floor in Washington. That fan will be banned, and charges will be pressed.
Consequences for bad behavior aren’t a new dynamic. A Patriots fan who threw a beer on Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill in 2018 was banned from Gillette Stadium and charged with disorderly conduct. Back in the day, a fan who tried to abscond with the ball found himself flat on his ass when Colts linebacker Mike Curtis intervened.
But the bad behavior seems to be increasing. Maybe it’s simply a product of fans not being able to attend sporting events for so long. Maybe things will get worse before they get better.
It’s all the more reason for these incidents to be publicized. Fans need to realize that unruly behavior will be met with punishment. Fans need to understand that they don’t have a blank check to chuck batteries or anything else in the direction of players. It’s easier than ever to identify those who behave badly. They need to be identified, and they need to be dealt with swiftly, decisively, and publicly.
That may never stop it (especially with alcohol being sold at sporting events), but it will definitely minimize the problem.