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Bad fan behavior leads to fan ban bill in California

Could causing trouble at a sporting event in California actually net you a ban from seeing your favorite team? If one lawmaker has his way,it just might.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto is introducing legislation that would place those who have been convicted of hurting someone at a sporting event on a “ban list”. Their name would be placed in an online database which would be circulated to sporting venues, ticket offices, and police departments around the state. Gatto says many of his Los Angeles constituents are afraid to take their families to games after incidents like the Bryan Stow beating last spring.

“There are so many things out there worth fighting for – your family, your country – but the color of someone’s jersey just isn’t one of them,” Gatto told KOVR in Sacramento on Tuesday, “Beating someone up because they’re rooting for a different team, we need to come down hard on these people.”

Gatto is absolutely right, it’s about time something was done to make going to a game more enjoyable for everyone. When I heard about this possibly, one incident came to mind: the countless brawls that took place at last season’s 49ers-Raiders preseason game where two fans were stabbed. It was an ugly moment for both franchises and their fanbases, one that owners of both teams hopes doesn’t happen again. A law like this could upend such instances of violence.

If the law passes, a violent fan could face a five year ban for a first time offense, a 10 year ban a second time, and 20 years for a third time. Jail time may also happen.

I think this more than anything protects fans who may not root for local teams. Many people who live here are not originally from here and they deserve to be able to enjoy a game out here like they did at home without any conflict. Sure, boos are to be expected and that’s okay, but I hate when fans take things too personally, it takes the fun out of going to a sporting event for people. It has for me before partly because it’s so expensive to even go to a live event and it’s not worth it if fans are being unpleasant to you. I’ve been at games where it’s been hostile for myself and your comfort level drops. You worry about even standing up to go to the bathroom and possibly having someone hurt you just because you may not root for the same team as that person. Something’s gotta give when fans of the other team are hurling objects at you.

My main issue with this proposed law is that it may not be effective in tracking who or who is not on the ban list and if someone is put on there inadvertently then that may cause problems. Gatto claims that similar laws are in place over in Italy and England have been successful. I do see this passing eventually,but not without objection from other lawmakers.

What also needs to happen is personal responsibility. When adults go to sporting events, they need to behave as such. We are all responsible for our actions no matter what kind of state of mind we are in and any of us who go to sporting events need to be aware of that.

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March 2012
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