BOSTON — For better or worse, sports venues across the country have welcomed back fans in full attendance in the last year or so. NBA fans were able to attend games last season in what was supposed to be a bright post-Covid moment.
Instead, numerous viral videos depicted a different scene. In Washington, D.C., a fan threw popcorn at an opposing player leaving the floor. At Madison Square Garden, an opposing player was spat on by a New York Knicks fan. In Boston, a Celtics fan threw a half-full water bottle at a Brooklyn Nets player as he headed toward the locker room after the game. And in Phoenix, a brawl broke out between fans at Suns game. It was a less-than-ideal return to basketball arenas.
NFL football games have also welcomed back fans in full attendance this season. Football crowds are known to get rowdier than those at most other professional sports. It’s the only sport whose fans truly tailgate, drinking excessively in the parking lot before entering the stadium. I remember going to my first NFL game with my dad when I was in high school. There were a few rowdy fans whose vocabulary was less than tasteful.
Naturally, there are plenty of viral videos of fans fighting in the stands and in parking lots at football games already in first weeks of the season.
What gives? I guess people spent a whole year at home and feel the urge to release their pent-up aggression at sporting events.
It had been about two years since I last attended a professional sporting event when I took the plunge on Sunday, Sept. 19. I figured my first trip back to a game had to be at Fenway Park, otherwise known as the Cathedral. So, my parents, sister, brother-in-law and his sister, two nephews (four and six years old), and I made the trip to Boston to watch the Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles. It was the perfect return.
Baseball is a slow-paced game that doesn’t necessarily get the adrenaline flowing like other sports. Attending a Red Sox game is more a family-and-friends event that involves a less aggressive attitude towards the opposing team or fans. Of course, there are exceptions — like the Red Sox and Yankees, the most hate-filled rivalry in all of sports.
I think everyone should attend a game at Fenway Park at least once. It’s a nostalgic trip to the country’s oldest ballpark — and, when you’re inside, it looks and feels just like that.
Our seats faced the third base line, giving us a full view of the diamond. The game was entertaining. The Sox got off to an early lead, but they went down a run in the 6th inning. Then, an electric seventh helped propel the team to an 8-6 win.
My four-year-old nephew got to experience Fenway Park for the first time, while the six-year-old took in his second game there. The adults enjoyed a couple of beverages and hot dogs. Our dancing even got us on the big screen briefly in the 7th inning. Everyone in our section joined in. We were all there to enjoy a beautiful day at the ballpark.
It’s easy to watch games on television now, but there’s something special about experiencing a game in person, especially with family. I felt discouraged after seeing all those videos of obnoxious fan behavior since arenas have opened back up. That Sunday game at Fenway reminded me how it’s supposed to be.