Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why do these things have to happen in Philadelphia?


One of the topics of conversation around here has been the Tasering of an unruly fan at Monday night's Phillies game at Citizen's Bank Ballpark.
Oddly, the topic wasn't the unruly fan as much as it was the Tasering. It seemed to be a bit extreme to some folks to use a weapon on a kid running around the field. Tackling him and rubbing his face in the grass is apparently the accepted form of apprehension. As for me, I'm all for the Tasering.
It's a nice electric shock that causes neuromuscular incapacitation, which to me, seems to be the point. They probably could have tackled him, but this did the job in half the time and didn't endanger any law enforcement personnel.
The ballpark has become something of a social gathering point as much as it is a ballpark. The Phillies have had 51-straight regular season sell-outs. Even the blessed Yankees don't routinely sell out their palace in the Bronx. Some of the fans however, don't come strictly for baseball reasons. Monday was dollar dog night, where normally $4 hot dogs were priced at the unbelievable bargain of a dollar. The logic that has fans buying a 30 dollar ticket to get a hot dog for a dollar escapes me, but I digress.
Advertising dollar dogs brings in a certain social element, and among them are kids who are using the above logic to get what they believe is a cheap night out. Along with that, they feel the need to attract attention to themselves, because the baseball game isn't enough entertainment for us, apparently.
So a kid decides (after calling his father for encouragement) to jump the fence and run like a mental patient around the outfield. With a 60-foot head start and 15 pounds of gear, the policeman found the best way to subdue him was to shoot him with a Taser. Bravo.
Strangely, the Philadelphia Police Department is under some media criticism. There is a reason the Tasers were issued to the cops. Keeping a kid from roaming the outfield during a professional baseball game is probably on the list. Baseball fields are for baseball players. If you don't want to be Tasered, stay in your damned seat. The soft-hearted among you would say that it was a kid being a goofball. The rest of us don't want him in the ballpark, much less on the field.
Those who see Taser use as extreme, I'd tell you that your perception is blurred by the weapon and not the act itself. Bringing him down by physical force is acceptable to you because it only involves chasing him and wrestling him to the ground. It's a Taser. People volunteer to be shot by them for TV shows. It brought a quick and quiet end to a bit of nonsense. He was stilled for about 30 seconds and walked off under his own power. Problem solved.
Philadelphia sports fans have a bad reputation, and things like this don't help us much. I used to defend them, but I've given up on that. They seem to revel in it and bring it on themselves. Self-inflicted social pain. Still, I ask myself whenever a kid is vomited on, a fight in the stands spills into a nearby bar or a kid is Tasered: "Why does it have to be Philadelphia?"
Fans in other cities are obnoxious and destructive, but when it happens here the journalistic red flag goes up and it's filed away in a cabinet of things we'll never live down. I suppose that's our cross to bear.
I'm just not going to carry it for you anymore.

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