Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fan insults Carl Crawford, national media springs into action

(This post originally appeared on Bus Leagues Baseball.com)

Last week, a fan in Manchester, New Hampshire heckled rehabing Red Sox outfield Carl Crawford. Besides calling Crawford "overrated" and "overpaid", the fan also allegedly called Crawford a name insulting Crawford's race.

ESPNBoston thought this was a big deal.

I don't.

Fans are fans, by-and-large a cross-section of the people of the area, and are rarely public figures. It is not news that some anonymous people dislike people of different races, creeds, colors, sexes, or religion. That's human nature. Here in Afghanistan, this is a daily way of life. We should not be surprised by it. Racism, sexism, and all the other -isms didn't suddenly disappear with the election of President Obama just as they didn't vanish in South Africa with the election of Nelson Mandela.

Is disliking people based on factors not tied to their personality wrong? Yes, of course. Should it be tolerated at a ballpark? Absolutely not. But is it worthy of an article on ESPN.com? No. If Carl Crawford had a problem or was made uncomfortable, he could have alerted security and let the ballpark personnel deal with the problem. Maybe he did, the article doesn't make that clear.

Heckling is by nature verbal harrassment, and is usually not tolerated in any workplace. No matter what they say, if that ballpark wants to move the person, remove them, or wants to make an example of the person and never let them back in, that's their perogative. The ballpark is a privately owned venue and fan behavior, verbally, physically, or anything else, is regulated by ticket purchase.

On a national level, I don't want to know if fans are calling players "racial slurs", just as I don't care if play is stopped if a player wants the fan removed from earshot. Honestly, I don't care. It's not news. It's a local issue.

Carl Crawford's rehab is national baseball news. Is he hitting, is he running, and is he justifying his huge contract?

We can worry about social attitudes or what causes people to dislike others somewhere else. And there we can dedicate real study to it. We can use the issue of security incidents at the ballpark to see if there is an underlying stigma of racism in New England. Are there
other incidents in public businesses? Are black people in the area more inclined to police harassment, employment discrimination, or anything that would effect their ability to be contributing members of society?

Now if the person who called Crawford a "racial slur" has a history in the area of racism then he becomes a public figure and then perhaps the locals can do something about it. Perhaps they can discriminate against him. If he is a private business owner, for example, perhaps the people of his area can boycott or do something else to show him that his actions will not be tolerated.

But again, that's a local issue, not one for ESPNBoston.com or any other member of the national sports media.