Two years ago today the sports community was forever changed when San Francisco Giants’ fan, Bryan Stow, nearly paid the ultimate price for his team loyalty. Stow traveled the 300 miles to cheer for his beloved Giants at the home of their rival, and was beaten almost to death in the parking lot of a Los Angeles Dodgers’ home game leaving him with severe brain injury.
This incident brought the issue of fan violence to the forefront, prompting the creation of FansAgainstViolence.org. All of a sudden, fan violence was a topic of conversation on a national level. Major news outlets, such as CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC were all talking about the violence in the stands.
Since that day, Mr. Stow has been slowly recovering from his injuries, though a full recovery is not likely, as his injuries were numerous and severe. Mr. Stow’s family has since started a website, which updates well-wishers and fans of his current condition, along with improvements and changes in his condition.
So, what does all of this mean? What should we take away from this tragic and senseless act of violence? Is there a “silver lining?” Those questions are difficult to answer.
One way to look at the result of this terrible incident is that the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and the NCAA have all taken steps to protect fans in the stands. There are emergency security text code numbers fans can use to report fights and disturbances, stadiums have increased security and, most importantly, most fans are no longer tolerant of people such as those men who attacked Mr. Stow. Decent people in stadiums all across the country, and the world, are reporting violence in the stands more readily. This incident also prompted California legislation, the Improving Personal Safety at Stadiums Act, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto(D-Los Angeles) which requires all professional sports venues in California to have a Security Text Code program in place. That, in and of itself, should be counted as a minor victory.
It’s sad that it took the near death of a fan to bring this problem to the forefront of conversation, but as Mr. Stow and his family attempt to heal and return to some sense of a normal life, they can take solace in the fact that, although it came in the wake of such a horrific event in their lives, the likelihood of this happening to someone else in the future is greatly diminished due to his story.
Fans Against Violence continues to support Mr. Stow and his family as they live through this tragedy. As always, we send our well-wishes and prayers to the Stow family. FAV will continue to do everything possible to prevent this from happening again.
We cannot change things on our own, but by raising awareness and offering suggestions to prevent this sort of thing, through the support of fans, teams and leagues, we will be able to make a difference in “Taking Back the Stands!”