The days of going to the ballpark, or any public gathering, without the possible presence of security or extracurricular events are over. For over the last decade, sporting events have found their way, intentionally or not, into the political spectrum where security over the patrons has been paramount.
According to Pat Bradley of NESN, “a large group of protestors found their way to Camden Yards on Saturday night during the game between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. According to reports, the demonstration was in protest of the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who suffered extreme spinal injuries earlier this month after being arrested by Baltimore police. Gray died one week later.”
The fans were allowed to leave the gates only after the tenth inning, when the Orioles defeated the Red Sox after 10 PM.
It is not for this site or any sports media platform to lay judgement or blame for anyone responsible for such an event, or to delve into the inner workings of any criminal or political case. Our business is sports, pastimes that entertain us and give us relief from the stresses of the real world. However, it is very sobering when those criminally or politically charged events overlap into our midst, and it is also wrong to ignore when it happens.
You cannot compare the seriousness or the severity of previous examples of these events, because they are sparked by completely different reasons, each emotional and heart-felt by every individual involved, directly or indirectly. The radius stretches wide, even around the world, depending on the situation. The Vancouver riot a few years ago, after their hockey team lost in the playoffs, and the Boston Marathon bombing are hardly the same as last night’s protest; however, some of the results are the same for families who brought their children to see their favorite athletes and to have cherished moments for the rest of their lives. They see civilians and police running around, shouting things to or at each other, with violent intentions and vibrations surrounding the city walls.
No judgement, here, just the reality.
We live in a world where anything can happen at any given moment. Security at baseball parks across North America has increased for our protection, whether we like it or not. And it’s not just for us, the fans of the game; the players are needing to take special steps, as well. WCVB.com, one of Boston’s news station web sites, reported Red Sox manager John Farrell saying, “I’m sure there’s a route that we will take that will be different from what we’ve done in the past, which would go right through where the protest is taking place currently … I don’t know what route that’s going to be right now.”
The innocence of the game is gone, for good or bad reasons alike. The question is whether it was ever really there to start. There has always been the possibility of disasters for the last century. Old Trafford, where Manchester United play their home soccer matches, was bombed in 1941. The damage was so bad that they could not completely finish rebuilding it until 1949. Imagine if the games were not stopped for the people to join the war effort. What if that was Fenway Park? What if the protesters found their way into the park? The last thing that you are thinking about is a protest or riot on Yawkey Way, while you are at home and dressing your three-year-old son up in Red Sox memorabilia for the thousands of photo-ops you plan to take that night.
Red Sox Nation should not live in fear, however. Nor should any other sports fan. Violence is a part of our world, like every other part of it. We should just try to always take precautions, whenever necessary. The next time the ballpark’s security guard asks you to show him or her your bag of tissues and personal items that wouldn’t hurt a fly, remember why they are asking, instead of getting annoyed at the ‘pointless’ actions you believe they are taking. It may make for a better and safer family outing.
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