Fights breaking out at Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers games are nothing new, especially when the two NFL football teams get together for their annual preseason game. But there’s an assumption, advanced by a San Jose Mercury News report, that the violence, in the case of a shooting outside the stadium, was gang-related.
Folks, none of the violence that occurs at the Niners / Raiders games has anything to do with “rival gangs,” and has everything to do with a far more violent society.
Moreover, San Francisco 49ers fans are, from my experience, far more violent than Oakland Raiders fans at the Oakland Coliseum. That flies in the face of the Raiders “bad boy fan” image, but the 49ers game experience at Candlestick Park has changed since the days of Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, and the “white wine drinking” 49ers Faithful.
At the last Niners game I attended, in 2009 against the Tennessee Titans, I sat with a good friend and long-time season ticket holder, in his area in the upper deck. We were surrounded by people who seemed to live for trash talking, and produced the kind of energy that can only be associated with a fighting environment.
I walked around to escape the negative energy and as I took a stroll around Candlestick Park, could not help but notice, and side-step, the groups of young men walking around, beers in hands, with that “I’m looking to screw with someone” look on their faces. And, eventually, a fight broke out, then grew in size until stadium security came along to break it up.
That was the last 49ers home game I went to.
By contrast, even though I only purchase club tickets, I have had a great time at Oakland Raiders games, even when I’ve ventured down to the “100 level” of the Oakland Coliseum. I seldom see a fight break out, and by and large the Raiders game experience is a great time for all.
I know that flies in the face of assertions made by ESPN’s Mark Sclareth, who claims that the violence from last night’s game can be attributed to Raiders fans, but he’s a former Denver Broncos player, and not totally familiar with the Niners home game experience of today.
The problem is not gangs – it’s the violent society around us, growing all the more so over time, it seems. Having more police will not solve the problem, and it has not solved the problem. Locking people up doesn’t help. Moreover, cities don’t actually do any form of systems thinking, and so apply “obvious” direct “solutions” to complex social problems, thinking they will go away.
Single parent families. Service budget cuts. Economic disinvestment in cities. And a society where people just let other people act like fools in public, and generally forget their manners – if they knew about them. All of that, and more, have worked to produce the problems we have today.
And now we complain.
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