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October 7, 2016

I like the Blue Jays. I like Toronto. I like the sheer number of dingers the team hits, the excellent pitching, the defensive effort, and the solid coaching. So, allow me to preface this by saying I really like the Jays. Are we at an understanding? Cool. So it’s time for me to climb on the soap box. Here we go again.

Toronto’s fans are awful, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Rather, one fan should be ashamed of their actions, and the rest should be ashamed for their fan base. During the Wild Card game between the Jays and the Baltimore Orioles, some jerk of a fan thought it was okay to throw a can of beer at Orioles outfielder Hyoo Soo Kim. Some other guys thought it was okay to shout racial slurs at outfielder Adam Jones (and you all wonder why he says baseball is white). This is not typical heckling. It is abuse.

It’s fine to say the other team is awful. It’s fine to say the Orioles are bad at baseball. Call Jones a bum, garbage, slow, stupid, any of that is fine. Call Kim a dork, weak, whatever you want. Calling them by slurs like “chink” and the n-word, and tossing beer at them is over the top. It’s racist. It is harmful. You could actually hurt someone. That bottle could have actually connected with Kim’s head and seriously hurt him. Forget hurt feelings: someone could have been hospitalized. Kim doesn’t deserve that, and neither does Jones.

As has become usual for this year in sports, we are at a crossroads. Or at the very least, a conversation can be started. And this one can’t just be hand-waved with “oh, those fans are dumb.” This isn’t a problem of one or two fans, nor is this a problem specifically with Toronto. Toronto is just the latest of many awful fan bases who do things like this. The problem is a culture of fandom that rewards aggression, and treats players like they aren’t people. Your average person would not be fine with tossing a glass bottle at some random person. The average person isn’t shouting “chink” at every single Asian person that passes them by. This isn’t normal.

It’s the fact that we place such a high premium on being rowdy fans that condones this behavior. In what other context is this not just accepted, but celebrated? When Philadelphia fans attack other fans, shout obscenities at players, and act like others don’t matter, it’s a part of being a tough fan. Being the villain becomes the entire end goal, and anyone who is trampled underfoot just doesn’t matter. This has to change. The players, fans, managers, coaches, and everyone in between deserve better.

Anthony Adams
Sports Columnist

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