Last night’s game between NC State and Tennessee is sadly now a secondary story. In the second quarter of the game in the Georgia Dome a 20-year-old Volunteers fan in the upper deck fell 35 feet to the lower bowl striking another fan. Both were rushed to the hospital.
Earlier today the identity of the young man was released, and it was announced by authorities that he had died last night. His name was Isaac Grub from Lenoir City, Tennessee. The man that was fallen on has not been identified and we don’t know what condition he is in.
Sadly, this is starting to become something of an epidemic at sporting events. On Thursday a fan named Jonathan Kelly died at Relient Stadium, the home of theHouston Texans NFL franchise. He fell 60 feet from a fifth floor escalator. Last year a fan died at the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field after falling off of one of the stairwells in the outfield. In 2011 a fan died at the Texas Rangers ballpark in Arlington, he fell from the first row of the outfield bleachers while reaching for a ball that Josh Hamilton was tossing to him. On July 7, 2010 a fan fell from the upper deck in the Rangers Ball Park while reaching for a foul ball, he luckily did not pass away from his injuries.
Something must be done about this. Considering how many sporting events have occurred over the last three years, five times is a miniscule amount, but that number should be zero. No one should die at a sporting event, especially not from a fall.
Stadiums must begin to take action to protect fans. Taking away alcohol may be an answer, but it isn’t one that will ever be adopted because beer makes money. I believe that there is an answer to this problem. Interestingly enough, the idea came from Woody Paige on ESPN’s Around the Horn television program following one of the Ranger fan falls.
Paige’s idea was to have netting that extends beyond the stands in order to catch anyone that falls. This should be adopted by every stadium in the United States. It is a safety precaution and a smart one. Then these same stadiums should look into safety precautions involving stairwells and escalators. This has happened five times in the last three years and it turned out to be fatal four of those five times.
Stadiums need to do the responsible thing and protect fans from themselves. It has become apparent over the last three years that anything can happen at a sporting event. Sadly, we have lost two fans over the last two nights. So take a moment of silence on this Saturday for the victims from the NC State and Tennessee game, Isaac Grubb and Jonathan Kelly.