As I mentioned in an earlier post, 21 year old Matthew Clemmens (pictured above) allegedly vomitted on an 11 year old girl at a recent Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. (Editors Note- Yes, I know it seems redundant to mention that it was a baseball game but this blog now has international readers. Anyways, on with the story.) Inevitably, numerous follow-up articles are now coming forward including a defense of Matthew from his uncle. I can certainly understand family loyalty, but the defense offered by John Gonzalez of the Philadelphia Inquirer is a little harder to, errr, choke down. Mr. Gonzalez points out the massive media conspiracy that has labeled Philadelphia fans as boorish animals more interested in drinking and fighting than actually watching the game-
As we all know, Philadelphia has a reputation for harboring and enabling lawless savages masquerading as fans. The Clemmens arrest only added to that stereotype and allowed lazy, brainless outsiders to lump us all together thanks to the sins of a single cretin.
As the old saying goes, within every stereotype lies a grain of truth.
Mr. Gonzalez's defense of the Phillies and their fans sounds a bit like the excuses offered in 2009 after a fan was beaten to death following a game in Philadelphia-
"The vast majority of fans act well at games, act well outside of games. And are cordial with opposing fans, but it's a select group of knuckleheads that take it a little too far and then give the whole city of Philadelphia a bad name."
At what point do the excuses stop ?
I'm sure that life has become a living hell for Matthew Clemmens and I hope that this incident causes him to take a hard look at himself. That being said, if it wasn't Matthew becoming the poster child for barbaric behavior in the stands, it would be some other lost soul at some point doing something equally stupid. Although personal behavior and accountability are the issue here, we can't discount the Animal House atmosphere at many professional sports venues these days. The free for all, alcohol fueled atmosphere fosters and nurtures this type of behavior.
I don't know if some sociologist will ever do a study, but I just can't remember going to baseball games in my youth and seeing people tailgating in the parking lots. Sure, some people may have had a grill going and were enjoying a few pre-game brews, but nothing like the binge drinking frat boy free for all that you need to navigate on the way into the stadium. I'll say again that this problem is not just present in Philadelphia- it has spread to many other towns and sports.
Then again, is it really a big societal problem or am I just getting old ? Perhaps a bit of both.