Fan revolts out of control, one wanted to fight UGA player

Braves fans littered the field with beer bottles and garbage, endangering others. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Braves fans littered Turner Field with beer bottles after bad call. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fan as: 1) an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator; 2): an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit).

As with anything, definitions can often be broadened. The boundaries of this definition just seemingly shouldn’t stretch to home fans cheering when their quarterback crumbles to the ground with a concussion. Or throwing bottles and garbage on a baseball field, endangering other fans and players, in protest of an umpire’s call. Or egging and toilet-papering a home known to be rented by five college players out of disgust, merely because the team lost a football game. Or effectively challenging one student-athlete to a fight on Twitter.

Yes. One “fan” actually did that last week to Georgia’s Christian Robinson.

“There were all these people saying stuff about me on Twitter, it got personal,” Robinson, a senior linebacker, said about the aftermath of last week’s loss at South Carolina. “I had to start blocking people Sunday. I think I blocked about 30. One guy really started coming at me. I’m like, ‘Why are you talking to me like?’ Then he started giving me an address, saying, ‘Yeah, come meet me,’ and I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’”

So this is what it has come to?

That there is a lunatic fringe in sports fandom is not a revelation. In ancient times, a chariot race at Hippodrome in the year 532 CE, organized to raise support for overthrowing the emperor, ignited a riot that led to the deaths of 10,000 to 30,000 fans. But at least there was the backdrop of political and social issues.

A house rented by Christian Robinson (45), Aaron Murray (11) and three other Georgia players was egged and toilet-papered after a loss. (AP photo)

A house rented by Christian Robinson (45), Aaron Murray (11) and three other Georgia players was egged and toilet-papered after a loss. (AP)

Lost perspective has reached moronic proportions. Kansas City Chiefs fans cheered last week when Matt Cassel was concussed because their team stinks, and they wanted Brady Quinn in the game. Chiefs linemen Eric Winston responded appropriately, saying, “We are not gladiators” and called it “sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life to play football.”

Hundreds of Braves fans threw bottles and garbage after an umpire botched an infield fly rule call in the Wild Card playoff game

Kansas City fans cheered when Matt Cassel went down with a concussion, prompting one teammate to call it "sickening." (AP)

Fans cheered when Matt Cassel went down with a concussion, and one teammate called it "sickening." (AP)

against St. Louis. The next day, when Chipper Jones was asked why he didn’t respond to a plea by fans for a curtain call following the final game of his career, he said he wasn’t aware they wanted him out there, then joked, “I thought they were still throwing bottles.”

Then there is what happened in Athens. A house rented by five Georgia players was egged and toilet-papered following the Bulldogs’ 35-7 loss at South Carolina. The masses vented on social media, particularly Twitter, some taking personal attacks on players.

As if perspective hadn’t already been lost, the idiocy became magnified when it was learned that the father of quarterback Aaron Murray — one of the home’s tenants, with Robinson — had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and was about to undergo surgery.

“People can hide behind [fake screen names], especially when alcohol is involved,” Robinson said. “I understand people get emotionally involved. But you hope they realize that there are bigger deals in life than Georgia football, especially when you see something like what happened to Aaron’s father.”

The Athens police department will begin making frequent checks of players’ homes during road games. It’s sad that it has come to this, especially on a college campus.

Sports sociologist Jay Coakley, author of “Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies,” believes a number of factors have combined to embolden sports fans more than ever, including: a growing belief that they can affect the outcomes of games with crowd noise, increased ticket prices that grow their sense of involvement; and the growing platforms for their opinions, including message boards, blog commenting and sports talk radio.

“There is a sense of entitlement, but it goes beyond that,” Coakley said from his home in Colorado Springs. “It’s also a sense that you can get away with it. I don’t want to blame it all on talk radio, but those narratives have become pretty extreme. The boundaries for what’s acceptable and what’s not have been pushed, even to the point of egging the home of your own quarterback.”

When asked for a solution, Coakley said it would help if athletes, particularly on college campuses, were less sheltered from the public and allowed to make an off-the-field connection with fans. He added, “It also would be nice if somebody in the stands stood up and said, ‘This is is not acceptable.’ Point people out. Maybe the message would start to get across.”

The Athens eggers have not been caught. Robinson laughed when asked what he would like to see happen to them if they ever were brought to justice.

“I think if they ever get caught, just the public knowing who did that would be worse punishment than anything else,” he said. “They would be complete social outcasts. That would be enough.”

By Jeff Schultz

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432 comments Add your comment

Ansel

October 12th, 2012
2:16 pm

Chi Town

October 12th, 2012
2:20 pm

Typical redneck UGA fans. You can find them anywhere in Athens or Winder.

Guy Bailey

October 12th, 2012
2:24 pm

While a transplanted brit in Atlanta I am a keen follower of all ATL teams so have a wider perspective I feel. The events of last Friday were like a Downton Abbey tea party compared to some of the old school soccer riots I attended (as in they happened when I was there, not adverts stating Riot starting 8pm this Friday, bring your own crowbar – but I digress).

The fact remains in the US and the UK – what other recourse does the average fan have to poor performance, price gouging, the whole morally bankrupt idea of sports franchising, actually lifting a team and moving it 1000s of miles on the whim of an owner and a league, and anything else? \

The seat licences and new stadium being a case in point. Atlanta doesn’t need a new stadium, the majority of fans don’t want it yet if Arthur threatens to become a modern crooked old Art Modell and threaten to take the Falcons to LA, what can the fans do, honestly?

While not condoning the throwing of missles, I honestly believe that the call against the Braves would not have been made against the home team in New York or Philadelphia – and I think we know why.

I always thought Atlanta sports fans were soft before last Friday night and I am delighted to have been proven wrong publicly.

tvradioguy

October 12th, 2012
2:24 pm

Yes, it is easy to forget that these are kids and students. They are not getting paid. If ya want to get upset with someone who is getting paid and getting paid excessively, look towards the coaches.

tvradioguy

October 12th, 2012
2:27 pm

CHI TOWN ~ that is a silly comment. These incidents happen with all teams/schools and places. At least here we are not shooting people in the streets. Chicago is going to hell in a handbasket.

Steve

October 12th, 2012
2:28 pm

this may come as a shock to some of you but it’s JUST A BALL GAME people. it’s not life and death, the sun is going to come up tomorrow no matter who wins or loses a a ball game. I can keep going. there are people that are out there on the field, they have feelings just like the rest of us.

Please forgive the poor SOBs that take it too seriously God help them

Jeff Schultz spelled backwards is Ffej Ztluhcs

October 12th, 2012
2:28 pm

Its funny how people get so angry about these youth sports that grown men play. More important things to do in life. I love my sports teams but if the Braves ever left town, the Falcons folded, and the Dogs were demoted to 1-AA, my life would still go on and I could care less.

Tayter Salad and Musterd Sammich

October 12th, 2012
2:28 pm

ITHINK IM HALF JAPANESE I THINK IM HALF JAPENSE I REALLY THINK SO

Jon

October 12th, 2012
2:29 pm

Guy Bailey, well said.

Ben

October 12th, 2012
2:29 pm

Jeff,
Have you ever toilet paper rolled a house?

Barbara Dooley

October 12th, 2012
2:31 pm

We never had this problem when Herschel was here and he and I were scoring regularly.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 12th, 2012
2:31 pm

Bad Dawg

October 12th, 2012
2:34 pm

Excerpts from the USC Game Planning Meeting with CMR, CTG and CMB:

CMR: OK, gentlemen, let’s make it quick, I’ve got to get over to the Ramsey Center for a diving exposition. You go first CMB
CMB: The big matchup problem is with Clowney. We’ll have the linemen and RBs dive at his feet thereby confusing him so much that he will run away!
CMR: I like your style, Bobo. What about Murray?
CMB: We all know what a big-game QB he is, just let him do his thing!
CMR: Agreed. OK CTG you’re up.
CTG: Well, this week we’ve decided not to take away the pass or the run. They will become so confused, they will simply hand us the ball back.
CMR: That’s never been tried before! Brilliant!
CMB: What about punt coverage
CMR: I’m not familiar with the concept but I don’t want to take focus away from the complexities of the game plan so let’s keep it simple.
CMB: What about the atmosphere and crowd noise.
CMR: I’d be surprised if their fans were into the game. It’s so late at night, most of them probably will wonder off by game time.
CMB: Ok, hadn’t really thought of that. I guess that’s why you’re the head coach and I’m not.
CMR: Good stuff guys. Why don’t you take the rest of the week off. See you in Columbia

nathan

October 12th, 2012
2:37 pm

Jeff, how about asking Chipper why he refused to hustle down the line in the very last at-bat of his career?

Rusty

October 12th, 2012
2:38 pm

While what was done to Robinson and Murray’s house was stupid, he needs to let it go. He is the one who brougtht it to the public’s attention and he is the one who continues to be quoted in every article about the incident and now about this ‘twitter’ incident. So some people weren’t nice to you, get over it dude, seriously. Any sympathy I have for you just continues to fade the more you b**ch about it. So what-your house got egged and rolled…. Great news-its a rental, you don’t have to pay if there is any damage! And if you don’t want people being mean to you on twitter-don’t tweet!

Jeff Schultz

October 12th, 2012
2:40 pm

TVradioguy — “Yes, it is easy to forget that these are kids and students. They are not getting paid. If ya want to get upset with someone who is getting paid and getting paid excessively, look towards the coaches.” <<< Well said.

Jeff Schultz

October 12th, 2012
2:41 pm

this may come as a shock to some of you but it’s JUST A BALL GAME people. it’s not life and death, the sun is going to come up tomorrow no matter who wins or loses a a ball game. I can keep going. there are people that are out there on the field, they have feelings just like the rest of us.
Please forgive the poor SOBs that take it too seriously God help them

<<< Also well said.

Bill Payer

October 12th, 2012
2:41 pm

The masses have been diverted by bread and circuses at least since Ancient Rome, and probably before. Life really hasn’t changed that much. Just more ways to be obnoxious.

Jeff Schultz

October 12th, 2012
2:42 pm

Ben — No, but I’ve had my house rolled (when my kids were in high school — “junior-senior wars”.)

Dat Pye

October 12th, 2012
2:42 pm

Glad we don’t have these problems on our beloved Plains.

Jeff Schultz

October 12th, 2012
2:42 pm

Nathan — Go smell a rose.

The Grinch

October 12th, 2012
2:42 pm

While I personally COMPLETELY understood the throwing of trash at Turner Field (I wouldn’t have done it myself…but I understand), the other two instances you cited in KC and after the UGA game were pathetic. KC especially; cheering an injury is disgusting behavior. Egging players’ houses after an honest loss is over the line. But the Braves fans weren’t angry at the players; they had a legitimate beef. Some monumentally incompetent fool made a mistake that possibly (yes I know it wasn’t the only factor) threw a 163 game season out the window, but that wasn’t the travesty. People make mistakes. It was when the stadium was on the verge of rioting that the real travesty happened. Joe Torre, who’s seen enough baseball presumably to know when the damn infield fly rule ought to be signaled, saw a potential riot brewing, viewed the evidence (which any 14 year old fan of either team in the crowd could have correctly interpreted), and apparently thought it might be funny just to give everyone the middle finger and insult the intelligence of everyone who’s ever watched or played the game. He should have been fired by the commish and if we HAD charged the field and people got hurt which would have happened almost anywhere else, he should have been arrested for conspiracy to incite a riot. But then we all know about Selig’s lack of baseballs.

Hanky Panky

October 12th, 2012
2:43 pm

HIRE JON GRUDEN. DRAFT JON GRUDEN FOR UGA HEAD COACH.

Jeff Schultz

October 12th, 2012
2:44 pm

Rusty — I disagree with you obviously. I asked him, he answered. Don’t make this out to be anything more than that. Christian Robinson is as solid a kid as you’re going to find.

cattledawgs

October 12th, 2012
2:44 pm

I thought about throwing my beer on the field last Friday night but then I remembered it cost 9 bucks.

Jeff Schultz

October 12th, 2012
2:45 pm

The Grinch — “…Selig’s lack of baseballs.”

<<< You know how to finesse a comment so it won’t get deleted. Kudos, my friend.

Larvell Blanks

October 12th, 2012
2:46 pm

Did you really just casually toss out “CE” in a newspaper column? And it was Constantinople, not Greece.

bubba4dawgs

October 12th, 2012
2:46 pm

Crawl in your hole, Rusty, and shut the hell up! You’re probably the idiot who egged and toilet papered the house! Most likely, you live in a rented trailer with an out house and eat butter beans three times a day….lots of gas! Just don’t strike a match close to your a**! GO Robinson, GO Aaron and GO DAWGS!!

Lobby Bowder

October 12th, 2012
2:47 pm

We neva’ have issues at our lovely institution down at the loveliest village.

Veteran Fan

October 12th, 2012
2:47 pm

My family and I were at the Braves game and everyone felt the crowd response to the call was appropriate! While I or anyone I know would not throw anything on the field, it was a good safety-valve for the frustration built up that night. Eventually, the emotions cooled down, no one was hurt(Cardinal fans agreed that it was not directed at anyone on the field.), and the fans policed the situation themselves! I would like to point out that the Braves did not handle it well with their admonitions that the umpires could forfeit the game. All they had to do was put Chipper on a mike and he ask the fans to stop and they could have ended it in 5 minutes! One of these days we may get some respect from the league and they don’t schedule a game to start in Atlanta at 5 on a Friday! (see frustration referred to earlier).

Dince Vooley

October 12th, 2012
2:49 pm

Can’t we all just get along?

btgt69

October 12th, 2012
2:50 pm

I have stopped going to ugahood because of the home team fan abuse. Throwing beer, obscene gestures, spitting, punctured tires, keyed cars,,, if it was just me ; I would not comment. However, ask any visiting team fan what they think of the hospitality and vandalism in Athens. It is awful. You recruit thugs, harbor thugs, enable and promote thugs. So why are we surprised at extremes to which they will resort . My prayers to Arron’s father, teammates. You deserve better fans.

GOTTI GAMBINO

October 12th, 2012
2:50 pm

Guy Bailey is really a girl folks

Rosie O'Donut

October 12th, 2012
2:50 pm

Hey, anybody else in here hungry?

Stuart

October 12th, 2012
2:51 pm

I agree with Guy Bailey. Have you been in the middle of any soccer riots abroad? This stuff over here is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING compared to those. Also, while I don’t condone violence by any means, when is throwing paper cups and plastics bottles (which is what they give out at the stadiums now) onto the field threatening anyone? If all the Braves and GA fans just sat back and said “Oh well” while doing nothing, the national press would continue to have the false assumption that the fans around here don’t even care. Of course they care; in most cases, they are more passionate than the players are. The irregular disgruntled attitude the fans have had lately around here is a regular up in Philly and NYC. I’m not arguing that it’s “right”, but as for the GA-based teams, a blown call and a no-show basically affect/end the entire season for both teams; with that, it may be a good thing that the fans were able to show what was on the line, b/c the teams didn’t. Of course it’s just a ball game and there are bigger things in life, but when you’ve been a paying fan devoting your time and money for the season (or for years on end) and crazy stuff like this happens effectively ending it, one might get a little upset.

Dawg '88

October 12th, 2012
2:51 pm

Chi Town…

Chicago smear machine and thugs in your city. Yeah criticize and demean UGA fans.
Pot meet kettle

Whew!

October 12th, 2012
2:52 pm

“. . . ignited a riot that led to the deaths of 10,000 to 30,000 fans. But at least there was the backdrop of political and social issues.”

Thank God Steve Spurrier wasn’t involved in that. It could’ve been REALLY bad . . .

Jim S.

October 12th, 2012
2:52 pm

Thanks for the article Jeff. I’m embarassed that these college ball players are enduring the kind of abuse cited. I derive a lot of joy from rooting for my team, taking road trips to cheer them on, and hanging with my friends while so doing. I hate that some people are so bitterly unhappy that they resort to such examples of ridiculously childish behavior. Taking a step back and remembering why you love the game(s) in the first place might be helpful to some of these misguided folks.

Catfish The Black Lab

October 12th, 2012
2:53 pm

I bet Lewis is rolling over in his grave because of the UGA lunatic fringe. What a disgrace you are.

Kentucky

October 12th, 2012
2:56 pm

These are just some extreme examples of sports fans getting out of control.It’s everywhere and seems to be getting worse, or certainly not any better. When people let their happiness, sadness, or anger be determined by the results of a game, these incidents will result.

Maybe you and Bradley should look at some of your articles and the emphasis you place on winning. Seems to me that you are more pf a part of the problem than a solution.

cattledawgs

October 12th, 2012
2:57 pm

dont act like gt fans are great. Thats the the only place ive been were a so called young man got in my wifes face.

It's Friday

October 12th, 2012
2:58 pm

The day i pay 9 bucks for a beer unless it was brewed by monks in a monastery in Belgium will be a cold one. Jeff, do you remember the Tech game while O’Leary was coach when 10,000 seat cushions sailed onto the field after an AWFUL call by a ref? Now that was funny, and there was almost zero chance of injury. And if i had paid 9 bucks for a beer, like cattledawgs I would have kept in my hand.

Jeff Schultz

October 12th, 2012
2:58 pm

Larvell – Yeah, somebody else alerted me. Changed “ancient Greece” to “ancient times.”
And what’s wrong with CE? (common era)

Rodster

October 12th, 2012
2:59 pm

Schultz: “The fans are revolting!”
Me: “You can say that again!”

Rusty

October 12th, 2012
3:00 pm

Of course you disagree Jeff, he agreed to give you a quote for your article and you are viewing it from a different lens than I am, no big deal.

Bubba, I’m just sick of hearing about it. I like Robinson fine but all this stuff isn’t that big of a deal and he is the one who keeps getting quoted about it.

It doesn’t justify the actions of the people but a lot of us have had our house egged before, our house has been rolled, our car has been messed with, and people have said mean things to us in person and online. I’m sorry its happened to Christian Robinson but I think he’s starting to sound like a cry-baby.

come on

October 12th, 2012
3:02 pm

dwag fans trash the campus every home game and go to the bathroom in the library everywhere except the bathroom. so it is not surprising they will trash their players homes. white trash is white trash.

Chi-Town's delusion

October 12th, 2012
3:05 pm

I took my 9 year old son to his first University of Illinois football game a few weeks ago. In Champaign Illinois. We had to leave at half time because of the drunk redneck U of I fans who were cussing, screaming, and giving the finger to the VIDEO screen when the new (as in hasn’t coached a game yet) basketball coach was shown on the screen. I’m not sure if these “fans” were smart enough to realize that it was a pre-recorded video or not.

Typical Illinois sports fan.

But by all means – go ahead and make jokes about other regions of the country.

Braves fan

October 12th, 2012
3:05 pm

Braves got hosed by umps…maybe league will get better umps as a result…no fun to drive an hour and watch incompetent umps determine victor after 3-4 more hours…and drive home for another hour….6 hours wasted..so game delay was the only fun that day

DIT

October 12th, 2012
3:07 pm

It has gotten so out of control. For some of on here the Dawgs could win the NC or go 0-12! LIFE DOES NOT STOP! It’s a game and a lot of you on here take it way too seriously. Win or lose I have to go to work and provide for my family as the good Lord allows. Heck of alot more to life than a game! Remember games are fun. Good article Jeff!

AFDawg

October 12th, 2012
3:08 pm

Who cares? It’s just a game — people shouldn’t get so worked up. But having said that, the fans have a right to demand fairness — I’m sick of the outcome of games being determined by incompetence. I was there Friday night — that umpire should have been suspended for the rest of the play-offs. But the league never does anything about it, so the fans become more frustrated. As for UGA, the fans need to talk with their wallets. If we want the ineptitude and incompetence to finally end — we’ve got to quit buying tickets. That’s what I’m doing. Loss of profits and/or revenue is the only thing that creates change — it’s the American way.