Nowadays, pro sports teams are under the impression that when it comes to renovating their current stadiums or building new ones, fans are all about being wowed. Whether it’s the Miami Dolphins swapping out stadium seats for “living rooms” or owner Stan Kroenke making his Rams more LA than ever, the best way to make a big splash is to be more luxurious than the next guy.
A little “style over substance.” That’s the ticket — both to get folks to buy them (tickets, obviously) and to get everyone else to join the conversation. After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Or so we’ve been told.
But what about when a sports franchise, in the hopes of not only being practical but also providing extra safety for its patrons, finds itself facing scrutiny? In this day and age, that sort of scenario manifests itself as part of the conversation. And right now, we see it in a public manner as author Stephen King declares his opposition to the Boston Red Sox’s new protective netting policy.
In an opinion piece written for The Boston Globe, King notes his disapproval that certain areas of Fenway Park once open to the field — particularly his two dugout seats — were now going to be covered by protective netting. And while the heralded horror writer noted that he would rather remain in his current seats, albeit under the cover of the nets, than move farther away from home plate, he wasn’t afraid to point out a bigger issue concerning the situation. That of “overprotection.”
“There are questions inherent in the decision to net,” wrote King, “and I think they’re bigger than baseball. Like when does protection become overprotection? Is the safety of a fan at a public event like a baseball game the responsibility of the organization putting on that event? (According to the back of every MLB ticket sold, the fan is responsible.) When do safety precautions begin to steal away the pure joy of being there?”
While our feelings on this matter may prove to be a bit controversial, sometimes that’s just the way it is. And as far as this particular debate is concerned, we have to side with King. The new nets are no good.
Before you’re quick to condemn us, please note that we are all for pro teams taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their fans. However, we truly believe that the beauty of attending a sporting event in person is that you get to experience the event firsthand. And that, by in large, means actually paying attention. Otherwise, why attend the game at all?
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. And sometimes, these accidents result in fans getting injured. In this case, we completely understand why Major League Baseball is taking this particular precautionary measure. But, there’s something we have to ask: Will adding more nets at stadiums prevent all fans from getting injured or is it just another way to limit the number of lawsuits against the league itself? Is that a cynical question to ask? Sure. Is it also a fair question to ask? Absolutely.
Public safety is among the most important things to ensure at any pro sporting event. But there is something to be said about overkill. And what the MLB is having the Red Sox do at Fenway is an example of this. Although we understand the reasoning behind it, we just simply can’t get behind it. For the record, we’re not just talking about the netting.
Information courtesy of the Boston Globe.