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San Francisco Fans Are Getting A Bad Reputation

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49ers fans are out of control. Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images.
49ers fans are out of control. Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images.

There’s an epidemic that has been rearing its ugly head at San Francisco games over the past few seasons. Multiple stabbings have marred the usual fun atmosphere of football games. It used to be that if you were sitting in the bleachers with the diehard fans, and you were wearing opposing colors, you’d get some grief. Maybe a few expletives thrown your way, a beer or two spilled on you, and other interactions that would inevitably cause some brouhaha. Recently, though, bleachers in baseball and football, among other sports, have become more fan friendly. However, in San Francisco, there has been some escalation of fan fighting, leading to some stabbings.

Can we simply blame Oakland for this? For decades, Raiders fans, in LA and Oakland alike, have been known for their violence. But, it clearly isn’t that simple. Some of it can be traced to rivalry: in baseball, the Giants and Dodgers have traded horrific altercations over the past few seasons. A Giants fan, Bryan Stow, was beaten in Los Angeles in 2011, suffering traumatic brain injuries. Then, just this past month, a Dodgers fan was fatally stabbed while in San Francisco for a game. So, it’s clear that Giants and Dodgers fans clearly hold a general dislike for each other, but what’s happening at and around Candlestick Park?

What makes the most recent stabbings at 49ers’ games similar is the fact that they’ve come after losses. Likewise, against the Cowboys in 2011 and the Colts this season, in both Niner losses is when these disputes occurred. One thing that has been consistent throughout all of these crimes is alcohol. And it’s not just a few drinks that these people are having. This is full blown inebriation. However, as long as no one’s getting behind the wheel of a car, you can’t really ask someone to drink less. It’s up to these people not to become dangerous to others when they get that drunk. How can we do that, though?

Well, opposing fans have to come into the stadium with their wits about them. That’s probably easier said than done, as you’re not going to stay dead sober when you go to a football game. However, some simple research about where your seats are, how you’re going to leave the stadium when the game is over, and other easy ways to avoid unfortunate situations would probably make the experience a little bit more pleasurable. If the situation becomes dire, opposing fans could dress themselves in 49ers’ gear to even avoid an altercation. That may sound drastic, but that’s where this sad story seems to be heading.

More security in the stadium to round up fans that are deemed too drunk to wait out the game in the drunk tank? Besides upping the cop presence at the parking lot tailgate to monitor any suspicious activity, you can’t regulate how much a person drinks at a tailgate. And following the game, the police presence is significantly lessened in the parking lot, when most of this mayhem is taking place. The Seahawks decided to dress up undercover police officers in 49ers’ gear before their showdown in Week 2 to prevent any shenanigans from taking place. That worked in Seattle, so why not adopt that concept for every game at Candlestick Park?

One thing that might change this tale is the move down the road to Santa Clara. Levi’s Stadium is supposed to be one of the most environmentally sustainable stadiums in the world. Additionally, it will be very heavily fan-friendly. In addition to apps that will tell you how long the beer and bathroom lines are, there will be a stadium scoreboard that features NFL RedZone, so fans can check in on their fantasy teams during the live action. If that’s not enough to please fans, public transit will be utilized near the stadium, playing into the environmental aspect. Even after 49er losses, hopefully angry, drunk fans will be able to get over the loss and move on. Obviously, that’s a very rosy outlook, but as difficult as it may seem to be to prevent these crimes, I believe the move away from the unfriendly confines of Candlestick Park will do plenty to deter these unfortunate situations.