Heard Phil Wood talking about this subject on XM 175, guess he decided to make a column out of it.
For NFL fans, class dismissed
By Phil Wood
Published: Thursday, September 15, 2005 12:17 AM EDT
Every so often I'll come up with another reason why baseball is better than football.
After attending the Ravens' season opener against Indianapolis, I've got another one: fan decorum.
Call it what you wish, but at a Major League Baseball game you are far, far less likely to face behavior in the grandstand that has you wishing you were elsewhere.
Does it happen? Of course. But in nearly five decades of going to ballgames, the football crowds are far rowdier than the baseball crowds.
Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium I was seated upstairs in the end zone. From the time I sat down until my wife and I left, language directed at players -- on both teams, by the way -- and fan-to-fan, was unrelentingly blue.
I'm no prude. But when you can't complete a sentence without a swear word or some sexual or scatological reference, you've got a problem. Some of these guys -- and it was overwhelmingly a male trait -- must spend part of their workdays thinking up more creative ways to swear.
I'm sure there are readers out there saying, "Hey, it was the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore's old team. Those fans were justified." I'll allow for a scintilla of hard feelings, though many of the guilty were too young to have any real knowledge of the old Colts.
But when the Ravens' Matt Stover, one of the most reliable kickers in NFL history, has a bad night, you would've thought he'd missed on purpose based on crowd reaction.
A good portion of the crowd also cheered when Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller went down with an injury.
Baltimore's not alone in this type of behavior. I've spoken with many Redskins' fans with similar stories to tell. Ronnie Lane, my colleague at XM Radio, describes a nearly identical situation in Tampa when the Buccaneers play.
It seems to be league-wide.
I've been to about 60 Major League Baseball games this year in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Detroit, as well as several spring training sites. Even on opening day at Fenway Park, with the Yankees providing the opposition, the Red Sox faithful gave the Bombers an earful, but other than the word "sucks," heard nightly on network sitcoms, it was largely obscenity-free.
At Nationals games you'll hear the occasional "boo," though little in the way of really and truly grotesque verbiage.
It may be a blessing the free-agent shortstop's name is Guzman. He can always pretend the fans are yelling "Gooooooz." And some of them may be. Orioles' fans are almost genteel compared with their brethren across the street.
Perhaps you think it's the nature of pro football that fans get so caught up in the game, they feel like they're part of success or failure on the field. I'll admit home-field noise can be a factor in winning or losing.
But players can't make out what you're saying from hundreds of feet away. It's all just noise to them.
It's just as effective if you keep it within the bounds of good taste.
Phil Wood has covered sports in the Washington-Baltimore market for more than 30 years. Listen for Phil on XM Satellite Radio's new MLB channel.