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Tickets aren't good enough for attention-hungry fans

May 06, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

Nowadays, everyone is on a mission to get more than their money's worth.

Let's face it. Bargains are going the way of free lunches ... there is no such thing anymore.

Attending a live sporting event used to be a bargain enough for most. It was an opportunity to enjoy an in-person view of some of the best athletes put on the planet. If you sat still long enough it became its own emotional thrill ride of excitement and disappointment, joy and despair and drama and comedy all rolled into one.

Today, that isn't enough. If you go to a sporting event these days, you had be ready for the unexpected ... and it isn't the action on the field anymore.

The word "fan" used to be short for fanatic. Now it stands for Fantasy Adventurous Numbskull.

The game isn't as important as getting that personal 15 seconds of fame on SportsCenter.

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It's enough to make Toby Keith proud because these are the people who use the chorus of his hit song "I Wanna Talk About Me" into every day life:

I wanna talk about me.

Wanna talk about I

Wanna talk about number one

Oh my me my

What I think, what I like what I know, what I want, what I see

I like talking about you, usually, but occasionally

I want to talk about me.

No matter where you go or what game you see, there is someone whose only goal is to get a stadium camera to flash their picture on a Jumbotron or TV by doing something completely stupid.

In most cases, it's innocent. It all started with creative signs ... like using the call letters of the station (Nobody Beats Cowboys) or a pack of guys painting letters on their bare chests to spell out a team or player's name.

It begins to step over the line when a fan feels the need to get in your face with their's.

How many TV interviews have someone milling around in the background just to hold up a No. 1 sign with their fingers or make some expression with their face, just to get on film. "Hi Mom" was bad enough, but it's become all too common because video is a must at almost every game now.

And now, that isn't even good enough.

Fans have found a need to be part of the event.

During the Boston Marathon, a group of boys decided to jump on the course and run for a couple hundred feet behind the lead pack just to get on TV.

And now it has turned even uglier.

Misguided fans are throwing things onto the field at players. It started as hot-dog-wrapper airplanes, evolved into coins and now it's cell phones.

What's next ... locked safes?

The threat of arrest isn't enough to stop fans from running onto the field during games. Most think they can out-run the law. That prank has become so common, not even TV broadcasts will show the idiot on the field anymore.

Now, drunken fans take the field and start attacking coaches and umpires.

Recently in Chicago, a fan who attacked umpire Laz Diaz said he just wanted to distinguish himself from the other three guys who ran on the field. "I wanted to get a rise out of the crowd, plain and simple. I wanted to do something that would stick out a little more, but I never intended for it to be like I was trying to inflict any danger on anybody."

It's amazing what 12 beers will do to one's judgment.

The truth is, the whole sporting world is turning into an English Premier League soccer soap opera. Fans are free to roam the stadium. Interactive sites, between-inning contests and marketing ploys have dumbed the game down just to get people to buy tickets.

Baseball, for example, used to be a thing of beauty. It was great surroundings watching a game with a pace and timing all its own, which was enough to keep people interested. But now televised games make the event go longer while the attention span of the fans gets shorter. We are now in a world where you can play a full video baseball game in 15 minutes and drama comes in an episode of "Survivor."

Sports are now the sideshow instead of the featured event.

You want a bargain? Here's an idea.

From now on, someone buys a ticket to a game, they automatically get a free owner's manual on how to use it at no extra cost.




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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