I watched the New York Jets play the New York Giants last Monday night. The game was sloppy. There were some big hits and minor scuffles, but that was about it. Meanwhile, when the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers met in their annual preseason contest, the big hits were not only on the field, but they spread into the stands and the parking lot after the game.
Many people say that East Coast fans are more passionate about sports and that West Coast fans are more laid back and could ultimately care less about sports. I’m not too sure about it, although I can believe it. The San Diego Chargers have put up with not meeting their full potential for years. Both Bay area football teams are just plain terrible. Let the Jets, Giants, or Eagles have five consecutive losing seasons in a row. All hell will break loose, and it doesn’t happen because the fans will not stand for it. Attendance will suffer and the wrath will be felt on all of talk radio.
With that being said, why does it seem as if the West Coast fans are more passionate?
Passion doesn’t mean fighting. Some East Coast fans are jerks, let’s get that straight, but they can control their emotions. So does this mean the East Coast fans are more civilized? Is the problem gang violence on the West Coast? The answer lies in the cultures of the two regions. When it comes to sports on the East Coast people are just used to winning. The Yankees and Phillies have won championships in recent years. The Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots are always contending for titles. The Giants and Jets are usually perennial playoff contenders as well. When you’re used to winning you know how to win. Yes, there is plenty trash talking that goes on, but the fans understand it’s just a game. Even when an East Coast team wins it all, the fans celebrate, but not like they just won the lottery. The fans also understand that when they lose, they know that when they were winning they were doing the same trash talking. They understand the phrases, “don’t dish it out if you can’t take it” and “what goes around comes around.”
On the West Coast, they are not used to winning. Sure the San Francisco Giants won last year. The Lakers won two years ago and are always contenders. A west coast basketball fan is a much more civilized fan than their football or baseball counterparts. But before the Giants and Lakers, when was the last time a West Coast sports team had a real shot? Don’t say the San Diego Chargers in the 2007, because we all know they choke in the big games. You’d have to go back almost 10 years to the Oakland Raiders in 2002 when a west coast team had a legit chance to win a championship.
Another part of the West Coast culture, specifically the Bay area, is Raider Nation. Al Davis made money off branding the team and its fans as the bad boys and misfits. If you foster that type of culture long enough people will start to live up to it. So you shouldn’t be surprised to see fighting. Don’t you also think the 49ers are tired of hearing about Raider Nation and being labeled as “soft” fans? Sooner or later they were going to stand up for themselves and show Raiders fans they weren’t scared of them as stupid as that sounds. You know these fans aren’t Rhodes Scholars, right?
Also, you can’t deny the gang culture on the West Coast. Whether you are in a gang or not, if you are around it enough you start to take on the culture subliminally. One thing a gang member won’t stand for is being disrespected at all. Whether it was a “your teams sucks,” or an “(expletive) the Raiders” t-shirt, whoever felt disrespected was going to fight for that respect.
There is absolutely no reason for fans to be fighting in the stands or parking lot. It’s just a game. Aside from the culture of the two regions, alcohol is the engine behind the recent violence during West Coast sporting events. If it needs to be done, raise the prices on alcohol or ban it from being sold or allowed on premises.
The answer could be that East Coast fans hold their liquor better than West Coast fans...who knows.