With next football season approaching there have been numerous mock drafts and discussions over team needs as we look forward to next season, but let’s take a look at a part of the team that doesn’t get talked about enough. That team member is the fan base and there are some improvements that we can make heading into the upcoming season.
While it is okay to be passionate about our favorite team there is a fine line between friendly quarrel and dangerous behavior between opposing fans. There is an even more distinct line between teammates and the fans that support them.
In the NFC championship game against the New York Giants much of the blame for the 49ers 20-17 loss fell on the shoulders of 23-year old kick returner Kyle Williams. Who fumbled the ball on a kick return in overtime leading to the Giants game winning field goal.
After the game Williams received multiple death threats on his twitter account. Irate fans went as far as to call for the death of his wife and kids. Williams who is single claimed that he expected angered reactions, but that he never expected fans to take it that far. His father Kenny Williams, general manager of the Chicago White Sox, was quoted on ESPN.com, "I'm used to the years of criticism and threats on my life from time to time, but I have to hear about threats on your son's life while you're watching TV, and it certainly makes you question our culture of sports as it stands."
Of course there will be those who say that athletes chose this career and should be prepared for the criticisms that they ensue. However, with social media bringing athletes even closer to public eye criticism has gone from discussing strengths and weaknesses among friends and neighbors to serious threats. There are also those who say that the internet allows people to say things that they normally wouldn’t and it takes the personal nature and some of the seriousness out of the threats. I wouldn’t be so sure about that.
During a preseason game that should have been a good time for opposing fans from the bay area two men were shot outside the stadium and a third man was beaten unconscious in the stadium bathroom after the 49ers beat the Raiders. Violence carried on throughout the season and into the playoffs where two men were shot outside of an Applebee’s by an irate Saints fan. After events like this it is no wonder that the 49ers had to implement precautionary procedures during the NFC Championship game against the Giants. In which undercover cops dressed as Giants fans to deter any unruly doings.
Not all fans are following this type of behavior. According to the SFGate, 7-year-old Owen Shure wrote Williams a letter not filled with anger, but gratitude. The letter said "Dear Mr. Williams, we just watched the Playoff game. I feel really bad for you but I wanted to tell you that you had a great season. You should be very proud, so I wanted to say thank you."
We should all learn something from this young man. While it is understandable that we may get frustrated from time to time let’s take some time to practice the golden rule that we preach to our children. Remember that violence or the threat of violence is never an acceptable solution. If we as fans feel terrible about a game, we can only imagine how much worse the players feel and we need to be there to support them like the strong teammates that we are. And when the game is over it is time to shake hands and say good game. At the end of the day that is all that it is.