Niagara Gazette

June 21, 2013

Mroziak: Is ballpark etiquette dying?

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — When you buy a ticket to attend a professional sporting event such as hockey or baseball, the public address announcer warns you — as does the fine print on the back of your ticket —that there's a risk for injury because the puck or ball may leave the playing area and head in your direction at a significant rate of speed.

Perhaps those tickets and PA announcers should also include a little primer on simple ballpark courtesy.

There is nothing more frustrating than paying to watch a ballgame, only to instead watch a steady flow of people traffic in front of you while the game is in progress. 

Because I work nights, afternoon games are an opportunity to see them as a fan. I decided to take advantage of a Bisons afternoon start and brought my two kids along. For most of the first three innings, I felt like a human bobblehead doll. That's because I was spending too much time bobbing to get a peek at the game action while the kids from a local school, also attending the game, were moving up and down the stairs, or worse yet even standing in them to carry on conversations with their friends while the play was underway. 

In fairness, it wasn't just youth. I missed the best catch of the day — Jim Negrych's diving snare of a line drive — because some older guy slowly walked his way upstairs into our path as it happened. 

His reaction? "Meh." And he walked on not caring that he just rudely ruined a scene for folks who actually paid for the chance to see it.

Folks, have we really become that oblivious toward common courtesy?

It's simple. Wait until the batter is out and the new one is not yet in the batter's box, or better yet wait until the inning is over, to go take care of whatever business is so important that you need to text "LOL" or "OMG" that quickly. 

It's not that hard to do. Heck, with minimal effort I was able to teach a 7-year-old and 4-year-old about a little ballpark courtesy. And these are little people who were more interested in finding the mascots or hoping the person in the celery costume would finally win the foot race against the chicken wing and bleu cheese.

Perhaps I can't change the world. But I'd sure like to get my money's worth the next time I'm at the ballpark as a fan and not working media. 

Of course, if these same people don't have the desire to learn basic ballpark courtesy, perhaps they also didn't bother to read or listen to the safety warnings. In which case, maybe some day karma will come in the form of a foul ball heading rapidly in their direction.

Now that would deserve an urgently texted "LOL."

Follow Niagara Gazette Sports Editor Michael Mroziak on Twitter at MrozGazette.