Nets and Raiders fans share Skins angst
This, I think, is one lesson from the Redskins' brief and unfortunate sign ban: trying to stamp out sports fan criticism will cause you much more grief than simply closing your eyes and taking what the fans are dishing out. I heard from dozens and dozens of fans who were more outraged by the sign ban than by the conditions that led to critical signs; it's one thing to be bad, it's another thing to be a bully.
Well, the New Jersey Nets might want to take a long look at the reaction in D.C. The Nets, of course, achieved infamy Wednesday night by dropping to 0-18, and the stands were peppered with paper bag heads and critical signs. One sign apparently went too far, according to my friend Steve Politi of the Star Ledger. He writes:
"End Ratner's Reign of Error!" the sign read, and 14-year-old Evan Juliano held it up twice from his seats a few rows behind the Nets bench....
But somewhere in the second quarter, as the Mavericks impossibly scored on 22 of 24 possessions en route to a 117-101 victory, the Julianos were told to put their sign down. They were told it was derogatory.
They were told that, if they held it up again, they would be kicked out of Izod Center. Kicked out of a Nets game. Is that a threat? Or a promise?
"I told him, it's not derogatory to me -- it's the truth," Dave Juliano said, pointing to the mess on the court. "We're season-ticket holders. We have the right to express ourselves."
And never stop, Dave. Politi reports that the Julianos were first told the sign was against arena policy, and that an official later said it was too big. For some reason, no one seems to have argued that the sign could have poked a bystander in the eye, but just wait until they go 0-19. The Julianos ended up staying to the game and holding up their sign without getting kicked out, so maybe someone quickly realized this was a bad road to travel.
So stay cool, Nets officials. If you take the signs, things will only get worse.
Though I do have to pass along this e-mail from longtime Reader Matthew, who went to the Colts Ravens game two weeks ago:
As I was entering the stadium and going through security, the unthinkable happened. I was poked in the eye by some guy's sign. He turned to make sure I was ok, but all I could do was laugh. I got a very weird look from the guy holding the sign.
Amazing. Anyhow, elsewhere in fan revolts, some Oakland Raiders fans, fed up with the Al Davis regime, have started a Message To Al movement, with more than 28,000 signatures and a massive billboard already to their credit.
This was actually one of Larry Weisman's news stories on Wednesday's edition of Redskins Nation. I mean, imagine that, fans so angry that they demand their team hire a GM. This led to a discussion between Larry Weisman and Larry Michael about Al Davis and his fondness for being called "Mr. Davis." Yes, I'm serious.
(Nets photos by Shannon Stapleton - Reuters and Bill Kostroun - AP. Billboard photo by Paul Sakuma - AP.)
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