By Keysha Hogan
Recently USA Today sportswriter Dan Bickley declared that “Candlestick Park is home to the NFL’s worst fans.” During a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals, fans joyfully, continuously did the wave as an Arizona defensive lineman lay injured on the field. The medical crew brought out a stretcher. They kept doing the wave. Players knelt to pray. They kept doing the wave. Eventually someone got on the public address system and tried to hush the crowd, but of course…they kept doing the wave.
Now chances are Bickley is a bit biased because he also writes for the Arizona Republic, but that doesn’t change the fact that partying while a man lay unconscious is a seriously foul move. But are Candlestick fans really the worst? We’ve done our research and they’re not even close to the following unfortunate list of worst fans ever (in no particular order…)
We count ourselves among the legions of worldwide Cowboys’ fans. In a recent Harris poll, the Dallas Cowboys remain the most popular NFL team, thus by default…we still are America’s team. Often we are judged for our ostentatious stadium and dismal playoff record, but we are probably hated because we don’t care what anyone else thinks about our team. As part of the Dallas extended family we are allowed to trash the Cowboys, curse Jerry Jones and huff at $50 parking spots. But if you’re not in the family, we’ll explain to you what it means to have a legacy and give a painfully sweet, “Bless your heart.”
Being a Cubs fan is much like being a Cowboys fan. Each offseason we sit straight-faced and talk seriously about how this year things will be different. Although the Cowboys haven’t won the Super Bowl in 18 years, Cubs fans are still pulling this mess after 105 years without a World Series win. I know they tout the curse as their reason for this chronic failure, but trust me, we’ve all been cursed by having to hear this story repeated over and over. Could it be that the franchise has problems? Or must we forever listen to more claims of pestilence and plague upon their household?
Boston Red Sox
Remember back before 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series? The only topic of conversation centered on the evil Yankee Empire, driven by greed and domination. Now that they’ve enjoyed some time at the top, their fans brag about their own quest for total rule while they enjoy the benefits of having the second-highest paid roster in the game. They want to keep the mindset of a team of underdogs, but in the 2007 World Series their payroll sat $90 million above Colorado’s. And to make matters worse, in the midst of the hypocrisy, every time we tune in for a home game we’re faced with images of their No. 1 fan Ben Affleck, probably mentally preparing to sully the new Batman film.
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles is known for many things, but when it comes to sports it features some fair-weather fans. Let’s go back. In 1991 when Magic Johnson retired, the truly uncommitted turned their back on the team. Then when Shaq left in 2004, TV ratings took a 30 percent drop. But when they were enjoying championship wins, the Staples Center turned into a douchey bar rather than an arena. The crowd spent the majority of the time texting, primping, and celebrity watching. Phil Jackson told the press “the focus is sometimes not on the court, it’s on the people in the crowd.” But they’ve made peace with it, by combining eight box suites into a nightclub called the Hyde Lounge. It’s a shame that other NBA teams that enjoy loyal fan bases that come for the game, have yet to enjoy a championship and the beautiful people of L.A. take their team for granted.
University of Maryland – Basketball
The University of Maryland is somewhat of a sleeper on this list of annoying fans. Tucked away in the small eastern state, the school mascot is a turtle named Testudo. You’d think the Terrapins would be a relatively calm bunch, too bad their first instinct is always to riot.
In 2002 when they won a national championship, six police cars were damaged, a state trooper lost two teeth and they used the metal police barriers as battering rams. In 2001 after a Final Four loss, fans began to loot local homes to steal furniture to burn in the streets. Then they destroyed local cable service for 30,000 residents and cost the city half a million in damages. But let’s give them points for being all about equity. In 2006 when the women’s basketball team won a game, they lit fires all over town and tried to overturn a bus. Win, lose or draw. They go straight to mob violence.
Some years ago the Montreal fan base decided to stop blindly supporting their team and instead decided to go on the offensive and wage an all-out campaign of emotional assault on their players. Instead of supporting their new elite goaltender, Carey Price, they heckled him until he took the ice with the shaky glare of a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. After one particularly rough post-series game, they were taking bets in Vegas about how Price would kill himself in the upcoming days. And we must not forget the swarm of looters who burned five police cars during the 2008 playoffs because the team advanced beyond the first round. When asked about his hometown fans, even former general manager Bob Gainey is at a loss for civil words, saying, “I think they’re a bunch of gutless bastards, to be honest.”
Raider Nation is a collection of trouble making knife fighters who take handmade cosplay to terrifying heights of realism. The Silver and Black has morphed over the years into a fan base that celebrates its inherent criminal side. They claim that Oakland Coliseum is the most frightening place to play, but away teams usually make a decent showing and walk away with a win. The moments that actually will haunt you are the uncomfortable sadness when you witness a bunch of sloppy dudes wearing shoulder pads made of bones ordering way too many beers before the half.
New York Yankees
Think of your friend who is a Yankees fan. You already know exactly why this particular fan base had to be on this list. On Urban Dictionary there is an entry for “Obnoxious Yankee Fan.” They are defined as a “1. Average fan of the New York Yankees. Along with an incredible ardor for their home team, obnoxious Yankees fans are distinct for their loud, rude and simply obnoxious behavior. Along with the Yankees themselves, the fans are part of the reason Boston hates New York. 2. Anyone who always cheers for the winning team, for no other reason than they usually win.” Well we’ve got nothing to add, which pretty much sums it up.
Philly fans like to reminisce about a moment more than 30 years ago when they assaulted Santa Claus in the stands with snowballs. They are the definition of a tough crowd. When Michael Irvin suffered his devastating neck injury and fought paralysis, the crowd erupted in cheers. Over at Citizens Bank Park an intoxicated fan intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl. What can we say, they’re kinda the worst. Legend Pete Rose once said, “Some of these people would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell.”
There are dozens of teams we could have included to highlight the worldwide phenomenon of the soccer hooligan. But the fans of Polish football club Wisla Krakow are a particularly scary bunch. These fans threw a knife during a game and stabbed an opposing player in the head. In their semi-annual rivalry game there is an understanding that there will be deaths and injuries inflicted by their supporters. So much destruction has been caused during these rivalry games that they have renamed the matches “The Holy War.”
Homicidal Honorable Mentions
• In 2009, an Iraqi soccer player was about to take a penalty kick that would have been the tying goal. An opposing fan took to the field and shot that player in the head. There’s no clever quip for this one, that’s terrifying.
• In 1993, tennis star Monica Seles received death and bomb threats. During a quarterfinal match, Guenter Parche used a five-inch blade and stabbed Seles between the shoulder blades.
• During the 1994 soccer World Cup, the U.S. and Columbia were deadlocked in a tight match. In a crucial moment, Colombian defender Andres Escobar accidentally kicked the ball into his own goal. Two weeks later, a bodyguard for a powerful Colombian drug cartel murdered Escobar outside of a nightclub.
• In 2010, Hector Castro of McAllen, Texas, beat his 2-year-old stepdaughter to death because she cried too much during a World Cup match. It doesn’t matter what team he was rooting for because he’s horrible.
Feeling disgusted yet? Every team has a fringe element that goes way too far and ruins everything for everyone. Here’s hoping that from now on smug obnoxiousness and violent thugs take a back seat to the games and teams we love to watch.