This weekend I attended the home opener for the New England Revolution, where they challenged fellow Major League Soccer team Toronto FC. The game was great (after being down 1-0 at the half, the Revs came back to score four goals in the second half and won the game), but the fans were obnoxious!
Many Revs fans (not all of us, thank you) booed when Toronto took the field, jeered when a Canadian was injured, and hollered things like "you suck!" when Toronto players had possession of the ball. In return, Toronto fans hollered at the Revs (though they were much farther away from me, and tougher to hear). The overall atmosphere in the stadium wasn't the palpable excitement of opening day, but rather an undercurrent of malcontent and ugliness.
Don't get me wrong: I love a good rivalry. Give me a Red Sox/Yankees game, for instance, and I'm happy grumble about the "Evil Empire" and poke fun at its players, but I do so from home and all in jest. I would never go to a baseball stadium and scream obscenities at a player or team. It's rude and it takes away from the fun of the game. I go to the games to see my team win, not to watch the other team lose. People who do otherwise aren't respecting the beauty of the game.
At the Revolution game, I was upset to hear adults jeering at the opposition, but even more saddened to see clusters of children (some as young as six or seven!) and cliques of teenagers hurling hateful words at the field and being generally disrespectful -- throwing popcorn and drinks, swearing, and standing in front of people who were trying to watch the game. Where are these kids' parents? It's inappropriate to send your children to a sporting game without teaching them the rules of the game and the rules of good sportsmanship.
I'll be attending more Revolution games this season (I already have my tickets), but I'm hoping for a more refined crowd. Though I may not get my wish, perhaps I'll at least remember to bring some earplugs...