On Opening Day, a SF Giants fan was critically injured after being beaten by a pair of men who waylay-ed him and his two friends in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium after the game. The fan had to have a piece of his skull removed to relieve pressure on his brain, and he is currently in a medically induced coma.
The reason why he and his friends were attacked? Because he dared wear a jersey from the Dodgers' sworn enemies...the San Francisco Giants. There is nothing about that sentence that doesn't sicken me. Sports rivalries can and should be fun. They can absolutely add to one's enjoyment of the game. Sneaking up on a fan of a rival team in the parking lot, attacking him and kicking him repeatedly in the head just because he was wearing a Giants jersey...that's just stupid and horrifying.
I wore a Yankee jersey and cap to a game at Fenway once, and I never really felt uncomfortable. One guy came up to me and screamed "Yankees suck!" at me, but it was 1998 and the Yankees clearly didn't suck so I just kind of laughed at him. So did his friends. Aside from that, everyone was pretty cordial. Never in a million years would I think that it could cost me my life.
Then there is John Steigerwald of the Observer-Reporter in Pennsylvania. A journalist, by name if not by actions. His response is that at a certain point in one's life, wearing the jersey or colors of your favorite team might be the wrong choice. That you really aren't being "part of the team", as he believes some fans think. I never thought that way. I don't think that wearing my Yankee hat to the grocery store or the library or Fenway Park makes me a "part of the team". It's just my way of showing that I'm proud of the team that I love to follow. As a fan. And to blame the actions of a couple of violent thugs on what the victim was wearing...well, that's too sickening a thought to follow to its sad conclusion.
He doesn't come right out and say that the victim "had it coming". He doesn't need to. It's right there in his tone.
And it sickens me.
UPDATE: Here's Steigerwald's response and "apology" to the family of the man who was beaten. Not about the words that he wrote (which he implicitly states that he never meant that the victim "had it coming"), but he apologizes if the nonsense written about the article by nonsensical bloggers ever reaches their ears. Well, that's mighty white of him. His argument is that he in no way felt the victim "deserved" what he got, but maybe was an "unwitting contributor". It doesn't matter how often Steigerwald states now that he never wrote that the victim deserved it or "had it coming". Like I said earlier, it was clear from the tone of the original article. Kudos to him for the semi-apology, and for at least semi-acknowledging the mistake. But he should have manned up and said something like "I can see now how my words could have been read that way, and I apologize." Instead, he blames hysterical bloggers. Way to ensure Round 2 of this particular fight, douchebag. Go get him, Ken Tremendous.