Wednesday morning, after taking my daughter to school, I came home, made coffee and signed onto Facebook to see what was going on with all of my friends and family. A number of my friends were preparing to make the trek from the Bay Area to San Diego for the Chargers-Raiders game. You could feel the excitement everywhere! The San Diego Chargers-Oakland Raiders game is typically one of the most exciting games of the season, but for a brief moment, I felt concern for my friends rather than excitement.
Very shortly after the formation of Fans Against Violence I was shocked to learn that one of my friends, Susan had been brutally attacked following the Chargers-Raiders game in San Diego last year leaving her with severe injuries including losing her vision for a month. Naturally, knowing my friends were attending this years game left me worried. I messaged my friends and asked them all to please stay safe, make sure they stayed, at the very least, paired up and not to wander anywhere alone.
This morning I woke up to the news of a 25yo man having been stabbed in the parking lot following the game. Although the identity of this man and has not been released, most of the reports I have read insinuated it was again a “Raider Fan” issue. My first thought upon hearing the news was “not again!”. My second thought was that of anger towards the media for again, in their subtle way, pointing the finger at the Raider fans. I decided I should take a breath and investigate a little further.
What I found out came as a huge surprise to me. I called a few of my friends and spoke with some fans that were actually at the game to find out what their experience was like. Everyone I spoke with said basically the same thing. They had a great time and had no problems, all of the Charger fans they encountered were welcoming and friendly, aside from the friendly bantering that always goes on between fan bases. Patty Mejia, who is an Oakland Raider fan, attended the game with her friend who happens to be a Charger fan had this to say:
I actually went with a Charger fan, and we were at the Black Sunday tailgate party with my cousin. He had a Raider Hater shirt on, they threw a “Black Sunday” sticker on his back and then fed him bbq and gave him a beer. He was in sea of black and not one person said anything to him, at least not on a serious note. We all had a great time. I was proud of everyone.
So what exactly came as such a surprise to me? I’d like to think, when it comes to acts of violence, I remain pretty unbiased. What I realized was, after hearing about Susan’s attack, I was putting that on the entire Chargers fan base. How different was this than what the media has consistently done with Raider Fans? Answer: It is no different.
Coming to this realization made me wonder should the media take responsibility when vilifying an entire fan base? Does this type of reporting contribute to the possibility of volatile situations between fan bases? If you go into a situation being told you should be in fear for your safety, does it make you more careful, put you more on edge? I can only answer for myself when I say yes to all the above. This type of stereotyping and finger pointing by the media seems to do no more than fuel the fire. What ever happened to responsible, non-biased reporting?
The truth of it is, Susan’s attack, the shootings at the 49er-Raider game, the Bryan Stow attack, the stabbing at the Chargers game and most incidents of Fan Violence at sporting events are isolated incidents, not the “norm”. Most sports fans are not there “looking for trouble”. Most are there to enjoy the game, support their team and have fun with friends and family.
As far as the stabbing goes, was this stabbing “seemingly unrelated to the sports rivalry” as the interviewing officer reported? I really cannot say. Who was at fault? Not something any of us can really answer. We can all speculate but the only thing I can say for sure is that it is unacceptable and inexcusable. No sport, No rivalry, No argument is worth taking to the level where someones life is in danger..EVER!
To read more about Susan and here incredible story please view her recent post here One Year Later: A Raider Fan Recounts the Events of Her Brutal Attack.