When the camera pans to the stands at a sporting event, it often picks up a lot of enthusiastic fans holding or wearing team memorabilia. From the fairly mundane, individuals dressed in jerseys or hats demonstrating their support of their team, to the slightly strange, like the wobbly foam fingers that used to be a popular sporting event staple, fans will show up with a lot of different items.
There are also several well known sporting superstitions or practices that lead fans to throw something onto the ice. The most commonly known is probably the hat trick – when a player scores three goals within the span of one game, many fans will honor his or her achievement by tossing a hat onto the field or ice in acknowledgement.
However, sometimes things will get a little bit weird and fans will toss something just plain strange. Of course, in some cases the strange item will have a clear significance for a certain team– fans will throw something that has sentimental value to those who know the ins and outs of the team, a kind of fan to player private joke if you will. Other times, it seems like someone just turned up with a really weird item and is determined to get it onto the field and get a bit of attention. There are two questions you definitely want to ask after seeing some of the things fans have thrown at a sporting event. First – how did they get the item in question into the stadium, given how tight security can be? And second… why? What did the people sitting near them say?
Whether it was a heat of the moment decision where a fan picked up something from the stadium or a premeditated choice to bring in a certain item, it remains a bit of a strange mystery.
Here are 10 of the weirdest things that have ever been thrown at a sporting event.
10 A Shark
The San Jose Sharks were confronted with their namesake mascot when some fan decided to take his or her favorite team name quite literally and toss an actual shark onto the ice. Granted, before you start getting crazy images in your head, it was a fairly small shark – not exactly the huge beasts that populate Shark Week. Still, it’s a pretty weird thing to throw onto the ice, and one can only imagine how on earth it got into the stadium. Perhaps the fan will one day return with a few helpers to try to up the ante and toss an even bigger toothy creature onto the ice.
Nowadays, stadiums have a pretty strict ‘no outside food’ policy within their walls – after all, those snacks and beer are a big moneymaker for them. However, they weren’t always so strict, and in the 1920s fans in Chicago had a certain food they would smuggle in when Rogers Hornsby was playing – lemons. They would toss the citrus fruit at him whenever he stepped up – while they’re spherical like baseballs, one can only imagine what a mess they’d make if a baseball player swung at them. The lemon-baseball connection is weirdly well established – the legendary Babe Ruth often got lemons tossed at him when he was out practicing on the field as well. Who knows, maybe they were just trying to help them refresh themselves by giving them half the ingredients for lemonade.
8 Teddy Bears
While it’s a pretty strange sight to witness, the practice of throwing teddy bears during minor league hockey games has a heartwarming explanation behind it. Many minor teams participate in the Teddy Bear Toss, which takes place during the holiday season, and the Toss helps get gifts for children in need. It’s kind of like inviting Santa to your minor league game. The way it works is that, when the home team scores its first goal (not necessarily the first goal of the night, just the home team’s first), everyone is supposed to throw the teddy bears they’ve brought onto the ice. The Portland Winterhawks fans really raised the bar in the 2006-07 season when their fans threw 14,361 teddy bears onto the ice.
7 Pig Head
It’s easy to say fans will understand when one of their beloved players goes to another team, but in reality fans are emotional and often feel betrayed when one of their golden players jump ship and swims over to another team. This was the case with soccer player Luis Figo. He left Barcelona for Real Madrid, and when he came back to his old turf, fans demonstrated just how upset they were with him by throwing things. When he went for a corner kick, several items flew from the stands as fans attempted to hit the player. The weirdest? Without a doubt, the pig head. Apparently some fan just had a spare pig head with him at the game (perhaps he made a stop at the butcher’s before the game?) and that came flying towards Figo.
Ah, the infamous Mellanby rat conquering. About two decades ago, during the 1995-96 NHL season, the Florida Panthers had a winger by the name of Scott Mellanby who went face to face with a rat in the locker room. Mellanby killed the rat with a puck and after he scored two goals in the game, fans modified the typical three-goal “hat trick” and dubbed his performance a “rat trick.” The incident led to a history of rat celebrations at Panthers games. Fans came equipped with little plastic rats to a Panthers game and, when Florida scored their first goal during a certain playoff game, small plastic rodents showered down on them.
5 Mars Bar
Anyone who knows anything about soccer likely knows who Gazza is. Gazza, also known as Paul Gascoigne, was a soccer player in the 1980s and 1990s who was renowned for his larger than life personality. In an interview he had when he was just starting out and fairly new to the professional sports world (thus maybe less careful of what he said), he made an offhand comment that he loved Mars Bars. Fans noticed – though he left Newcastle to play for Tottenham, his former Newcastle fans showed their undying support by throwing his favorite treat onto the field during a game. While many players would be alarmed by having something thrown at them, and likely be suspicious about what the object was, not Gazza – he just took a big bite out of it, proving that he really does love Mars bars.
4 Beer Cups
There’s one thing pretty much all sports fans hate – bad calls. There’s one thing pretty much all sports fans love – beer. At a Chicago Cubs game, the two passions aligned in an amusing incident. During an exciting game at Wrigley Field, Chicago fans were a bit upset at a call that was made, which they apparently didn’t agree with. They showed their dissatisfaction by (of course) booing, but they also tossed endless beer cups onto the field. Given how many fans watch the game with a beer in their hand, quite frankly it’s a bit surprising that it doesn’t happen more often. One thing is for sure – it was quite a sight to see the field covered in so many beer cups.
3 A Wheelbarrow
There are some strange items that fans can bring in fairly easily by tucking them into their pockets or bags. And then there are some items that are just too big to be hidden. In 2004, a Copa Libertadores quarter final game between America and Sao Caetano got a little bit heated. It was basically the dictionary definition of fans brawling after the game – it got so out of hand that one of the American players, who was in the dressing room courtesy of a red card, came to fight for his team as well. The crowning moment occurred when a fan managed to somehow grab a wheelbarrow from somewhere in or near the stadium, bring it in without having security guards take it, and throw it onto the field. There’s throwing a few punches and then there’s throwing a huge gardening implement that could easily knock out anyone it hit. Anyone going to a game at the Estadio Azteca is likely on guard after that one.
2 A Scooter
If throwing a big object like a wheelbarrow wasn’t quite strange enough, take note of the game at which a big motorized object was thrown. In 2001, Inter Milan and Atalanta were going head to head. As opposed to the wheelbarrow tossing incident, which was mostly a strange choice of passion, the scooter incident was premeditated. A fan supporting Inter stole the scooter of an Atalanta fan prior to the game, and managed to bring it into the stadium, which is pretty incredible in and of itself. They then took it onto an upper deck and watched the game, rooting on their team, before trying to light the scooter on fire – perhaps in some strange attempt to show their superiority over Atalanta. When that didn’t work as well as they hoped, the Inter fans threw the scooter onto the lower deck.
All hockey fans know who Curtis Lazar is – he’s competed for Canada at an international level and was snapped up by the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He’s touted as one of the biggest young talents and he’s on the path to becoming a star. However, in a recent game, he proved just how silly young athletes can be sometimes. During a Senators game, Ottawa won and fans celebrated by throwing hamburgers onto the ice. Why hamburgers? It’s understandable if you know the team – it was a bit of a hat tip to the Senators’ goalie, Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond. Lazar responded to the strange hamburger shower by bending down, snatching one of the burgers, and proceeding to take a big bite. The moment quickly went viral on sports shows everywhere as everyone wondered what on earth the young player was thinking. In case you were wondering, he even posted a funny message to his Twitter account after lamenting how the burger could have used some ketchup. Let’s hope Lazar loads up on carbs before his games from now on.
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