Bock’s Score: Fans Are Anti-Socially Distancing Themselves From the Players

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Why is everybody so angry?

After over a year of being barred from games, replaced by those silly cardboard cutouts, fans have been welcomed back into ballparks and arenas to watch the world’s best athletes do their thing. And the customers seem to be arriving with a chip on their shoulders.

There were two nasty fights in ballparks in the last couple of weeks with fans of the St, Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox going after each other in one and Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodger fans in another. In both cases, they were throwing roundhouse haymakers, serious fisticuffs.

The Dodgers-Astros scuffle was understandable following Houston’s shenanigans in the World Series against LA a couple of years ago. But the Cardinals and White Sox? They’re not even in the same league.

At least in those cases, the fans, probably encouraged by adult beverages, were going after each other. NBA fans, however, have been targeting the players.

In New York’s Madison Square Garden, called “The World’s Most Famous Arena,’’ one customer celebrated the return of playoff basketball by spitting at Atlanta’s Trae Young, who had offended the fan by lighting up the hometown New York Knicks.

This occurred after a friendly fan in Philadelphia dumped a bag of popcorn on Russell Westbrook, who was headed to the locker room to treat an injury. Westbrook, king of NBA triple doubles, had to be restrained from going after the popcorn-dumper.

When the 76ers-Wizards series moved to Washington, some yahoo dashed on the floor, heading for one of the baskets. A security guard tackled him with a takedown that was NFL-worthy. In Utah, Jazz fans inundated Ja Morant’s family with racial slurs in a nasty display of hometown hospitality.

Then we have Boston where Kyrie Irving is not exactly a popular guy after bailing on the Celtics to sign with the Brooklyn Nets two years ago. Irving knew he would hear it from the Boston faithful in the playoffs. He guaranteed it when he celebrated a Nets win by stomping all over the Celtics logo at center court.

How dare he?

As the Nets left the floor, one 21-year-old genius dressed in Celtics green heaved a water bottle at Irving, just missing his head. He could have done serious damage, protecting his team. Instead, he wound up in handcuffs, escorted out of the arena and headed for the Massachusetts judicial system.

This is sports, folks. Sit back and enjoy the show. Keep up the bad behavior and they will have to erect fencing to protect the players.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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