Fans or Fan(atics)

Published 10:39 am Monday, October 22, 2012

As one of my beloved sports editors, Joe Crine, a 43 year veteran of sports journalism in Bainbridge, Georgia, used to say “you know the word FAN is short for FANATICS”.

It at appears Joe’s words of wisdom have sadly come true as of late.

There seems to be a rash of people that call themselves sport “fans” that are living a lie. This small group of village idiots is living on the lunatic fringe. I believe there are some serious underlying problems that give this small but dangerous group an excuse to act out.

I started to take note of the crazies when the infamous Harvey Updyke, as self-proclaimed Crimson Tide “fan(atic)”, allegedly poisoned the huge 130-year-old oak trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn AL.

A bad call by the umps in the Atlanta Braves, St Louis Cardinals, National League winner-take-all wild card game prompted some “fan(atics)” at Turner Field to trash the stadium, causing a 19 minute delay of the game…not to mention an embarrassment for the Braves nation.

Recently, home town Kansas City Chief “fan(atics)” cheered loudly as two mammoth visiting Raven defensive players knocked their own quarterback, Matt Cassel, unconscious and left the poor man lying motionless on the turf of Arrowhead stadium. I can’t even fathom the thought of letting out a cheer when the opposing QB goes down in a heap…much less my own guy.

When the Georgia Bulldogs were blown out by South Carolina a few weeks ago, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, along with another Georgia player, Christian Robinson, return to their condo only to find it had been egged and rolled. Again, hometown fan(atics).

In Morgantown, West Virginia, after the Mountaineers beat Texas, their largest victory ever, hundreds of drunken college student and “fan(atics)” set some 40 fires and attacked police with rocks, bottles, and bricks.  Please be mindful that West Virginia already has enough black eyes without adding more.

What have our athletic contests come to when our own fan base take out their frustrations on the home team?

I believe there are some serious underlying problems that gives these folks an excuse to act the fool. It seems that some “fan(antics)” are bringing their personal problem to the games. Maybe things aren’t perfect in their life, maybe their wife left them, maybe they lost their job, or their dog died….I don’t know and I don’t care, but there is something mentally amiss with this group.

There is an escalating problem, an epidemic, of unruly fan(atics) at sporting events. I fear in the future we are going to face more and more serious and severe issues. Hopefully we’ll never have to deal with deadly violence of a fan or a player.  Has this become the new normal? Are these” fans” or “fan(atics)”?

Joe Cowart is Publisher of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7218.