When you only hear the results of a court case and haven’t heard all the arguments made, it is dicey to weigh in with opinion from afar.
That said, I found the ruling by a San Diego judge to be a poor one, sending the wrong message about what should be allowable conduct by fans at a football stadium.
Here is the account from the Associated Press:
A San Diego judge has sided with a Kansas City Chiefs fan who was arrested after he resisted security guards attempting to eject him from a Chiefs-Chargers game at Qualcomm Stadium for using an obscene finger gesture and language. Jason Ensign, who was wearing a Chiefs jersey at the 2009 game, fought back when security guards tried to remove him — reportedly slugging and biting them. He was charged with misdemeanor battery.
the Associated Press
But Superior Court Judge Gale Kaneshiro said security guards overstepped their authority and Ensign…was within his rights to resist.
The upraised middle finger, she wrote…violates the National Football League “Fan Code of Conduct”, but is not a crime… ” Ensign was not a physical threat to either the private security guards or the fans at the game at the time of the initial use of unlawful force by the private security guards,” Kaneshiro ruled.
The judge apparently is basing her ruling on the premise that the actions taken by the fan did not pose a “physical threat” to those around him.
But, the reason security guards step in when fans violate the “Fan Code of Conduct” is to prevent an escalation of tempers often fueled by alcohol and partisanship. Their job is to diffuse those situations before they result in violence.
If, in removing a fan from a game, security personnel are met with physical resistance, the offending fan should be held criminally accountable.
Security guards deal with these kinds of situations all the time at games. The judge’s ruling seems to indicate that dealing with fan problems at a game will have to reach the level of a crime before security personnel can have legal protection from a fan resorting to violence while being ejected.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want a brawl to break out before security guards can deal with an unruly fan. And while I have seen security personnel overstep their bounds at times, they deserve protection from assault by fans being removed for violating the “Fan Code of Conduct”.
When a fan attends a game, the ticket requires reasonable conduct. If you don’t want to abide by the rules, don’t attend the game.
First Amendment rights shouldn’t outweigh fan safety.
Founder & Executive Director
Chuck Wilson is an award-winning host, interviewer, and commentator. He was an original host on ESPN Radio and was with the network for close to 17-years. In 2007, Wilson was named one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute for International Sport. He is the founder of Even Field.