I grew up in a family that pledged allegiance to two different NFL teams. Not just any two teams, heated rivals. The football fans in my family are split between the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. It’s a rivalry that has only grown more bitter over the years.
As a child, I spent just as much time wearing clothes with the 49er colors and logo as I did in anything else. I’m fairly certain that my grandparents had ideas of turning me into a Niners fan. Their plans didn’t work out as well as they expected. I consider myself a Raiders fan – a realistic Raiders fan.
Week one was closer than many expected, but ended in a loss. Last Sunday’s victory was exciting. Even though it was against a Jacksonville team that went 2-14 last season, a win is a win. I’m the first to admit that wins this season may very well be hard to come by for the Raiders as they try to rebuild. As fans, we have to take a win when we get one.
Then there are the 49ers. Last season’s NFC West champions have what looks like a bright future ahead of them with Kaepernick at the helm. They won game one and weren’t so lucky in week two.
You win some, you lose some.
As a fan, we should be proud whether our team wins or loses. And there isn’t anything wrong with being loud and proud or competitive. But the competiveness between Niners and Raiders fans has become ridiculous.
After Sunday’s 49er-Seahawk game, I made what turned out to be a terrible mistake. I updated my Twitter feed. From there commenced a mess of trash talk – from both sides of the rivalry.
Raiders fans claiming that the 49er fans are living in the past, Niners fans saying that Raiders fans are beneath them. It’s a never-ending verbal assault on one another.
There isn’t a sense of Bay Area pride when it comes to sports anymore. There isn’t any concept of, "Well, if my team can’t win it, I hope the other team can."
It’s turned into, "If my team can’t make it, no Bay Area team can."
It has turned from heated words to violent acts.
I was at the last 49er-Raider Battle of the Bay at Candlestick Park. The 2011 game that went down in history as the straw that broke the camel’s back. Possibly the last ever football Battle of the Bay.
The game made national headlines for the many fights in the stands, a bathroom beating and two shootings in the parking lot. Not a proud moment for either team.
I went with my grandma to the game. She’s always been a diehard Niners fan and we thought it would be fun to watch our teams battle it out on the field.
I can’t tell you any details from the actual game. I can tell you that I missed parts because people were standing up to try and see the fights. We saw people being escorted out of the park and we left early because we didn’t want to deal with it anymore.
I’ve heard it all coming from a divided family and the one thing that I always say when someone tries to place the blame on one team is, ‘it takes two to tango.'
Or, in this case, it takes two to fight.
Violence among the two fan bases has destroyed an event that brought a lot of joy to many fans. It’s an instance where a small number of fans ruined the fun for everyone.
But why do the fans feel the need to stick up for their teams with their fists or weapons? Is something as petty as a game worth risking your health and life over?
It shouldn't be, but apparently it is.
We live in a time where people are quicker to pull a weapon than talk about their issues, a time where people act before they think.
I've heard the blame be placed on alcohol sold at sporting events. I've heard it’s because Oakland has thugs for fans and that Niners fans would never act in such ways. We judge an entire fanbase off of the actions of a few, or where their stadium is located. If we’re going to judge one set of fans, we may as well judge both. Better yet, keep your judgments to yourself.
Restricting the amount of alcohol sold at stadiums or placing the blame on one team won’t solve the problem. As soon as everyone learns to support his or her team while respecting the other, the football world will be a better place.
All of us fans are here for a love of the sport. So for the love of football, let’s stop letting competition get in the way of our civility.