To be up front, fans have a right to go to any game in any arena in any city any time they are able to afford the tickets. Let’s get that out of the way right now.
That being said, when someone is a visiting fan in another team’s arena they simply cannot behave as if it’s their home arena, regardless of the game’s outcome. Furthermore, it is a professional sports arena, not a territory to be annexed in a weird form of the game Risk. It can be very fun to see your team win in someone else’s building, yet there are lines delineating “all in good fun” and “being offensive.”
It is a fact that Carolina has an attendance problem. With the team not having performed well in recent years, home attendance has dipped off slightly. On top of this, Raleigh attracts a large number of transplants due to its proximity to Research Triangle Park and burgeoning technology industry. This brings an unusual number of visiting fans. While Carolina has some of the lowest ticket prices in the league, many of the lower-level seats are vacant. This is because these seats are often upwards of $75-100 which makes multiple games out of most families’ reach. On the other hand, when your team comes to town once or twice a season this price is well worth it, causing these tickets to be quickly snatched up by visitor fans since they plan these outings at the season’s start.
This is a lose-lose, since the Hurricanes management cannot lower their already low prices nor can they ban visiting fans from games. That makes the carpetbaggers that show up just one of those problems fans have to deal with.
What fans should not have to deal with is the disrespectful and offensive behavior from the Bruins fans who descended upon PNC Arena last night. Even the most casual glance over social media will show descriptions of visiting fans:
-Starting multiple parking lot fights before and after the game
-Shouting profanities and insults at home fans, including children and senior citizens
-Intentionally obstructing other fans’ view
-Damage to cars in the parking lot
There have been other unconfirmed reports of Bruins fans committing multiple obscene acts of taunting that are too repulsive to reprint. None of these acts have any place in any arena by any fan, home or away.
Quite frankly, these Bruins fans were not in TD Bank Garden, their living room, or any of the cookie cutter pubs in Boston. They were in a visitor’s arena. While beating the Hurricanes absolutely gives them the right to hoot, shout, cheer, and engage in some chop-busting, nothing gives them the right to act like the kids from Lord Of The Flies.
“This is how we do it in Boston” and “lighten up” are invalid arguments. If any Hurricanes fan strolled into a visitor’s arena and did one of those things, an entire section would be facing assault charges. If such behavior would not be tolerated in your arena why should it be condoned in anyone else’s?
Nobody is saying visiting fans cannot engage in some fairly obnoxious behavior. To be honest, this is usually expected from Boston fans in any sport. That’s just kind of how they are. Fans who cross the line, however, are an insult to their entire fan base. Disavowing the bad apples does nothing. They are wearing your team’s jersey and colors, and therefore represent you.
The Bruins organization should be held completely accountable for any confirmed act of assault, obscenity, or harassment by their fans. Should any of these anecdotal accounts be proven, epic apologies are owed to the Hurricanes fans and management.
Visiting fans have no right to behave the way Bruins fans did in Raleigh this week, and this type of conduct should not be tolerated in any arena in the NHL, regardless of location or the game’s outcome.