Here’s an early stocking stuffer for my fellow Philadelphia faithful. ‘Tis the time of year to be happy and merry, not crazy and hostile. Sure the Eagles are having an off year and the 76ers are on pace for another .500 season, but it’s no reason to go postal.
There were two incidents two Sundays ago involving overzealous fans, separated by just a few hours and a dozen or so miles on Broad Street. The incidents only perpetuate the stereotype that Philadelphia sports fans are possibly the most unruly and unreasonable in the business of cheering.
Shortly before the second half of the Eagles’ meeting with Green Bay, Christopher Noteboom, a 44-year-old Eagles fan and resident of Tempe, Ariz., jumped onto the turf at Lincoln Financial Field and emptied a bag containing his mother’s ashes.
Just a few hours earlier, as the men’s basketball team was finishing a thorough beating of Miami at the Liacouras Center, coach John Chaney grabbed the microphone to chastise some students for launching an object onto the floor. “It is not Temple’s way … to not have manners,” Chaney said. “Always remember: Stupid is forever. You can’t change stupidity.” The Philadelphia Inquirer surmised the flying object was a Mentos breath mint.
There have been other dangerous instances of fan interference over the past few years that have presented serious risks to the participants’ safety. Regardless, this is a disturbing trend that needs to stop.
Did these knuckleheads forget that Philly fans need no other negative episodes to add to our unimpressive resume of embarrassing moments?
In this town, fans are famous for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus and former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, chucking batteries at former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder J.D. Drew, and mercilessly booing Michael Irvin after the Cowboys wide receiver suffered an injury that left him motionless on the Veterans Stadium turf.
This doesn’t just happen in Philly, though. Two summers ago, a Chicago-based father and son tag-team assaulted vulnerable Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa, who was facing home plate when the duo scaled the first base fence and pummeled him from behind with a barrage of punches.
And who can forget the image of a crazy-eyed Ron Artest, who chased a fan into the stands, in Detroit?
The days of our grandparents and parents are no more.
As player salaries have skyrocketed, so have their egos. Teams and their shoddy marketing and public relations departments have created the division between athletes and fans. Due to their immense salaries, athletes are now a part of the upper class and can no longer relate to hard-working, middle class Americans. Fan exploration onto playing surfaces has only widened the gap between players and fans.
I find it very hard to throw the book at Noteboom for carrying out what were apparently his mother’s last wishes. He did it during halftime when there were only a few players on the field, compared to performing his stunt in the middle of the game.
Even so, if every diehard sports fan, before passing away, stated they wanted their remains spread across the playing surface of their favorite sports facility, there would be a serious problem.
Or, imagine if the ashes that Noteboom dispersed into the air at the Linc were not ashes, but anthrax?
Frankly, there is no concise solution to this problem, except for fans to stay off the playing surface and to keep the unidentified flying objects from flying. To make a statement, write a letter, call someone or rant on talk radio.
The only outlet fans should employ is freedom of speech.
Kevin Maloney can be reached at email@example.com.