Those of us who love sports probably keep some lasting image of the enduring love between fans and players locked in our hearts somewhere like a golden memory of how things should be. These sorts of memories and images surround us at every sporting event. Just think of the warm, nostalgic patriotism an Olympic hockey game can evoke, with the adoring crowd chanting “USA” to the equally shocked American players and Al Michaels jubilantly asking “Do you believe in miracles?!?” Or how about Cam Newton handing out footballs to fans like they were candy. Even something as basic as the ‘Lambeau Leap’ or infielders handing out foul pop-ups to kids in the stands brings fans and players just a little bit closer. If you still don’t believe it, remember those old Coke commercials with the Steelers Mean Joe Greene and that lovable little kid? Talk about illustrating the bond between fan and athlete- that’s iconic, right there.
But… like everything else in sports, there’s always a dark side to the way the two sides interact. There’s always the potential for sports events to end up showcasing fans and athletes who interact in awkward and unhappy ways. We’ve all seen it. Think of the players who shun signing autographs for the little kids waiting during batting practice. Think of the student section at a college basketball game mercilessly taunting a free-throw shooter from the other team with deeply personal insults. Or how about those fans who throw everything from popcorn to batteries (batteries?!?) at the players. Sometimes these awkward moments are simply mildly amusing. Sometimes they are deeply disturbing. But they are always there, waiting to rear their awkward heads. Our list includes a little bit of everything when it comes to unsettling encounters between sports stars and their fans.
15 Big Bad Bruins Go into the Stands
14 Rosie Ruiz Cheats Marathoners and Fans Alike
13 Patriots Fan Tackles Junior Seau
12 Aaron Rodgers Tells Fans to R-E-L-A-X
11 Harvard Cheerleaders Save Their Flag
10 White Sox Father-Son Combo Run Onto Field
9 Crazed Soccer Fans Chase Whole Team Off Field
8 Fan Steals Brett Favre’s Ball
7 Indiana Pacers Go into the Stands
6 “The Play”
5 Seles Stabbed
4 The Maier Ball
3 Philadelphia Eagles Fans vs. Dallas Cowboys Snowball Fight
2 Soccer Fans Score Goal
1 The Bartman Ball
Chicago Cubs fans will always remember this one. What would you do if a foul ball came your way? If you're like Steve Bartman, you'd try to catch it. Except the play happened during the 8th inning of Game Six of the 2003 NLCS, Cubs leftfielder Moises Alou was tracking the ball and the Cubs were winning 3-0 at the time. Bartman’s interference led to a dropped ball, Alou screaming at him and his fellow fans threatening him so much he had to be escorted from the field. So he managed to make it awkward for both the player and other fans. Oh yeah, the Cubs blew the game and the series.
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