Throughout my lifetime and I suspect well before I was born, there has been a stigma about Oakland sporting events being a dangerous place where you will get beat up or even killed for wearing the wrong team’s colors. In high school, Oakland Raiders jerseys weren’t allowed because it was associated with gangs and violence, even though the bright red 49ers colors were the only jersey in the Bay Area being repped by gangs (Nortenos). No matter where you go people assume all Raiders fans are somehow associated with violence even though most people have never been to a Raiders game.
Somehow the negative connotation about being an Oakland Raiders fan has also effected stadium mates the Oakland A’s. I have been going to A’s games my whole life and I have not once seen violence break out at any of the hundreds of games I have attended. However, the Bay Area media and San Francisco fans have continued to wrongly accuse Oakland of being a place where violence happens.
In 2011, violence breaks out at the annual 49ers-Raiders battle of the bay preseason game. Instead of looking at the drunk idiots of both fan bases, it is automatically assumed that all the thugs from Oakland have come over to Candlestick to start the ruckus. According to the SFPD, there were more incidences of violence at San Francisco 49ers games than at Oakland Raiders games.
Fast forward to today, the Bay Area has awoken to another needless tragedy, as a Los Angeles Dodgers fan was stabbed to death after leaving AT&T Park with his family. I wish this would come as a shock to all sports fans in the Bay Area, but unfortunately it is expected. I have been to four Giants games at AT&T park and have seen violence break out at three of those games. Yeah, the high rate of violence is because the Giants were playing the A’s and Dodgers who are rivals, but it is still an unacceptable rate of violence. Last nights violence comes just days after violence broke out at Candlestick park during the Colts-49ers game. In 2011, the 49ers had 3415 incidents, including 23 felony arrests, 201 fights and 630 ejections from the stadium.
Now I am not trying to paint the San Francisco fan base as a violent group of fans. However, I am saying that it is time for San Francisco fans to look in the mirror. When I went to the A’s-Giants game this year, I was obviously sporting my Oakland A’s hat and jersey. It kind of shocked me how many people were yelling for me to go back to Oakland and generally talking smack. It was understandable as the A’s were destroying the last place Giants but it was also disrespectful. I am not from Oakland or even the East Bay, but I can understand the resentment that East Bay natives feel towards San Francisco/Peninsula fans. People were talking about Oakland like some destitute land of thugs even though it is an important part of the Bay Area.
I believe the stigma of Oakland fans being ghetto and violent has to do with rampant classism and racism that has been part of the Bay Area landscape for decades. For many in the Bay Area, Oakland and the East Bay in general, is a place where KTVU and KRON 4 reports live from after a deadly shooting or robbery. The Oakland Coliseum is somehow a place that has gone back in time to the NWA days where gangs and convicts roam the parking lot starting fights.
Bay Area, now is the time to come together as one united sports fan base to end the violence that has plagued our region for far too long. We must not allow another sports related fatality to happen at any of our sporting events. Smack talking opposing fans is what makes attending games so much fun but we must not cross the line to violence. San Francisco fans, you must stop the finger pointing towards Oakland sports as you are only growing the resentment that many East Bay fans feel towards “the city” fans. Last night’s tragedy must be the turning point for fan violence in Bay Area sports.