Sports always brings people together, especially through difficult times. However, since March, professional and even college games have been put on hold because of the Coronavirus. Over the years, we have witnessed a few moments in sports that some would consider dangerous. In December, 2001, a glaring example of unacceptable behavior was seen in the NFL.

The Cleveland Browns have not had things go right for them since they last made the playoffs in 2002. Yet, they have one of the most passionate fan bases in the league. Sadly, one of the darkest moments in team history took place on December 16, 2001. They hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars, and had a call go against them. While the officials made the right decision, the crowd did not agree, and began tossing beer bottles and other debris from the stands onto the field. Despite giving fans time to calm down, the bad behavior continued. Ultimately, the game was stopped with 48 seconds left. These actions did not portray Browns fans in a positive light.

The NBA had its own incident only three years later. In November, 2004 the Detroit Pistons hosted the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers emerged victorious, but that was not the main story. What happened with under a minute left in the game is what people remember most.

It began with an on-court confrontation between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest. It then escalated into something ugly when a fan threw a drink at Artest while he took a break from the action. Of course, that upset the former Pacer and he went into the stands and began fighting with members of the crowd. Other former teammates joined in the fray and it became a wild scene. Despite attempts and pleas from former Pistons head coach, Larry Brown for fans to calm down, the chaos continued. The game was stopped and players from both sides left the court. Fans threw debris at Pacers players. The league fined players for their role in the melee. Some fans were banned from attending a Pistons game for life. It was a dark day for the NBA.

In game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series, the Texas Rangers visited the Toronto Blue Jays. The seventh inning was crazy. The game was tied at 2. A disputed call gave the Rangers a run. At the time, the officials made the correct call, but the sold out Rogers Centre crowd did not see it that way. They began throwing trash and bottles onto the field. The game was delayed for a while. During the bottom half of the inning, with two men on base, Jose Batista hit a massive home run which sent the crowd into a state of euphoria. The Jays took the lead, and eventually won the series. It was one of the best moments in franchise history. At the same time, however, while displaying passion is always great, it is wrong to throw stuff onto the field. Some fans left during the chaos in the top of the seventh inning, and some might have gotten hit by debris. That behavior was unbecoming of Torontonians.

However, there are times when fans get crazy, but for a good reason. Last year, when Kawhi Leonard hit what became known as “the shot” against Philadelphia to end Game 7 of the second round of the NBA Playoffs – the crowd at the Air Canada Centre came unglued. In hockey, when a player scores a hat trick, some fans throw hats onto the ice as a form of celebration.

In U.S College Football and Basketball, fans storm the court or field after a victory that seems unthinkable. While storming the court or field makes for an awesome visual on television, I always think that doing such a thing is dangerous not only for the student-athletes, but also for their friends who want to join in on the fun, because it can cause severe injury.

As restrictions lift, we are slowly seeing sports come back. The UFC began their fights on May 9 with a great card that people are still talking about. More fights will occur in the coming days and weeks. Nascar will also return, and so will other sports in due time. But this return means that no fans will be in attendance. Even the Superbowl and Wrestlemania will likely be different. Fans will return to sporting events in the future, but it will happen in a different way. I hope that when that day comes people will willingly accept those conditions and think twice about how they behave at live events.

People attend sporting events because of their love of their team and that particular sport. They want to enjoy the atmosphere and have a good time. So, when the Coronavirus restrictions ease and society can return to some sense of normalcy, let us show more acceptance, tolerance, empathy towards everyone. These past few weeks have given everyone time to reflect, and hopefully we will emerge as better individuals. Please be safe and remember, we are in this journey together as one.

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