By Marilyn Green
I’ve been a St. Louis Cardinals fan since I was six years old. I went to my first Cardinals game at Busch Stadium II when it was brand new. My family consists of over the top baseball fans. My father played high school baseball, and coached both my brothers in Little League. Baseball in the Green family is sacred.
I take my fandom very seriously.
Because I love baseball and the Cardinals so much, it disturbs me to hear and see the things I have from St. Louis Cardinals fans. I have been to three games so far this season and three last season. I would go to more if I could but it is not possible. But I don’t have to go to every game to see the disturbing trend of fan behavior. Fans booing at players who don’t play well. Yelling and cursing at players. Constant harping and criticizing every at bat, every defensive play that isn’t up to par. This kind of behavior may make the fan feel better, but the fan is not playing the game. The players hear and hear about that kind of behavior. They are not automatons. They are human beings with feelings and insecurities just like you and me. They have special skills and they are paid well for those skills but they do not deserve to be treated like their feelings don’t matter.
I was privileged to have access to some players and players’ families at the game against the Blue Jays on Saturday. It is easy to criticize and complain about that guy you see on your TV or from a long distance away in the stadium. But when you actually meet them face to face, hear them speak, talk to their parents or their spouses, you realize that they are no different from you. That player’s wife or child, or mother or father, feel the same way you would feel if someone cursed a member of your family or called them ugly names. And believe me, that does go on at games – with the player’s family sitting within earshot. Players hear what it is yelled at them from the stands. Think about how you would feel if you had other people screaming at you how worthless you are. Wouldn’t it affect you adversely? Of course it would.
The players don’t mess up on purpose. Have you ever had a boss or a co-worker constantly harping at you? How did it make you feel? Did you get to a point where you just didn’t care anymore because you knew it didn’t matter what you did? Do you think the players don’t have these same feelings at times? I can say without reservation that I performed the best at my job when I felt appreciated, when I received encouraging words from those around me. Yes, I still messed up at times, but I picked myself up and was more determined to do better when I knew I had the support of my boss and my co-workers.
We love our Cardinals. We have been recognized as the Best Fans in Baseball. However, from what I have seen going on in the stands in the last couple of seasons, that moniker is in serious jeopardy. Bad behavior becomes contagious. We as Cardinals fans need to respect the game, other fans and most importantly, the players. Booing and cursing is not respect. Booing and cursing do not make the players play better. Please Cardinals fans, continue to be the Best Fans in Baseball.