A Bill Of Rights For Sports Fans

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - December 21, 2011
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Fans cheer during the first half of an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders Dec. 11 in Green Bay. AP photo/Jim Prisching

In the days leading up to and following the end of Greg McMackin’s tenure at UH, message boards, talk shows and countless Facebook postings discussed the role of the paying public and their expected duty when it comes to athletics.

Fans were challenged, students called out and boosters both lambasted and celebrated.

To answer some of these questions and for your pleasure, we present the Fans Bill of Rights.

1) Fans Are Customers First.

The idea that fans must, without fail, shell out good money for a bad product is laughable. Regardless of good or service, consumers have the right to expect value for their investment.

To whine that someone isn’t a true fan if they don’t blindly throw cash at college athletes earning $200,000 in educational benefits or a millionaire professional identifies not the faults of those who exhibit free choice, but the physiological assistance required for those pointing fingers.

2) Students Have Freedom of Choice.

Just because a person pays tuition, and perhaps an athletic fee they may not want or cannot use, does not require them to attend games or restrict them from having input into the actions of the athletic department.

To suggest they have no input just because, as a recent letter to the editor at the Star-Advertiser said, their athletic fees only add a minuscule amount to the budget, is simply ignorant.

3) Right to Fair Pricing. While we accept the ever-increasing cost of tickets, fans don’t deserve to get fleeced while parking, or purchasing food, beverages and cheaply made paraphernalia. The Masters charges patrons $1 for soda, $2 for domestic beer, and the traditional pimento cheese sandwich is $1.50. A Master Club or chicken breast sandwich will set you back $1 more.

If Augusta National can feed its customers for a reasonable cost during one of the world’s most iconic sporting events, there is no reason why a .500 ball club can’t do the same.

4) Right of Real Competition.

With the price of a ticket comes the expectation of an honest effort. Teams that tank games or bench key players in an effort to improve draft status are perpetrating fraud on the buying public. This also applies to teams that rest players in the hope of greater post-season success.

5) Right to Boo, aka the New York Rule.

Outside of high school athletics, booing is a right even when the target is the home team. Fans have few avenues to express their opinions, and the verbal drone from several thousand unhappy customers sends a message. If you have the right to cheer, you have the right to boo.

Can it be crass and misplaced at times?

Yes. But that’s what the First Amendment guarantees, and no thin-skinned coach, self-entitled athlete or panicky athletic director can take that away.

6) Right to a Safe Environment.

Customers are free to express themselves in any number of ways, but that right ends when it endangers others or when the behavior becomes inappropriate for those sitting in the vicinity of the madness. Stadiums need more and better security, and a zero tolerance policy on inappropriate behavior.

Plus, banning alcohol at all public county/state areas but allowing it at a state-owned stadium just because it brings in revenue is hypocritical and, as we are too often reminded, dangerous.

7) Right to Stand, Shout, Jump or Wave Your Hands in the Air Like You Just Don’t Care.

Even though you’ve had season tickets since Moses sailed the Nile, it doesn’t give you the right to tell other fans not to have a good time.

Athletics is entertainment, and sometimes having fun means showing emotion. If you consider enthusiasm a sin, stay at home.

8) Right to a Safe Playing Surface. (Not a fan issue)

The kids are cute, but 8-year-olds shouldn’t be in charge of wiping the floors at Stan Sheriff Center. Officials and visiting coaches are constantly reminding the kids to pay attention, and the job they do is spotty at best. It looks bush league and could lead to injuries. Dump the towels, get real equipment and responsible staff members to do the job.

And by the way, Happy Holidays.


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