MLB Ballparks Code of Conduct Project Pros and Cons
Can't Change the Fans' Opinions But...
The quarterly owners meeting by the heads of all major league teams met late last month to discuss a series of issues. One of these was what to do about fan misconduct. The talk was triggered by an incident in early May, where visiting Baltimore Orioles CF Adam Jones was the brunt of racial mudslinging at Fenway Park during a night game. The owners are supposed to bring the topic back up in November after the season ends, but what should they do about this problem? And should anything even be done about it?
With regards to the Adam Jones issue specifically, the MLB should indeed crack down on these types on incidents. While all MLB teams have a code of conduct for their fans at their ballparks, there's still no uniform consensus that blankets the entire league.
Some teams have a more lax standard. The other leagues in the Big 4 have already implemented something similar. The NFL put one in place in 2008, and the NBA is allowed to rescind tickets for season ticket holders, eject individuals, and even have people arrested.
While cracking down on racial slurs won't change the fans' minds if they already have those thoughts, it'll protect the players' peace of mind. Sure, the Red Sox haven't reported any other incidents since May, but that doesn't mean a tiger changed its stripes.
It can be jarring for an African-American to go through that scenario, especially considering the current tensions in the United States regarding race. And it's not just extreme right-wingers, it's a certain police culture as well. Ask Michael Bennett. But let's say you're a fan and your goal is to distract the opposition and that's the most effective way for you to do so. Well, it's not just jarring for that player, but the team you're supposedly trying to help not only gets placed in a bad light, but their players, both Black and White, almost certainly don't agree with your views and might not feel as motivated to have you in the stands, even if you are ultimately cheering for them.
MLB Fans Free Speech Issue
Some might argue that fans should be allowed to say whatever they want with impunity, that they aren't hurting anyone and have a First Amendment right. Well, that would make sense if the MLB was actively imprisoning anyone who said a racial slur, but they aren't.
An individual team can ban an individual, and they have every right to as a private company. The police aren't coming to arrest anyone for what they say in the stands unless it's related to a direct threat of violence. The Boston Red Sox have a hate speech clause which states they are able to ban anyone who breaks the code of conduct.
The next logical argument will be that it's a slippery slope. If the MLB starts down this path, it could eventually lead to them kicking out fans for marginal hate speech, then next is outright insults, signs that could be deemed offensive, or anything else that can be interpreted in a negative light. This is why the First Amendment is reserved for the government.
Why? Because if the MLB's code of conduct gets anywhere near unreasonable, as a company, the free market will cause them to lose profits over it by less fans attending games. Fans and, by consequence, advertising to these fans is how the league makes its money and the MLB knows it.
2018 Ballparks Code of Conduct
Whether you want more regulation on fan conduct or not, spokesperson Michael Teevan has already stated that there will be a league-wide code of conduct in place for the 2018 season.
While there's no specifics yet, it will surely be more stringent than the individual ballparks currently are. Hate speech won't be tolerated, and there might even be some clauses that some fans don't agree with. But baseball should be a privilege. It's meant to be family friendly and a way to relax. If there's a few rules you don't agree with, you've got every right to not buy those 2018 season tickets. That's the free market.
Do you agree with the MLB's new proposed code of conduct? Be sure to share this article and comment below on what you think should be done! Enjoy the rest of the season by trying your luck at Sports Interaction! They offer some of the best MLB lines in the business, and seeing there's only a month left, this is when the dogs might come out to bark.
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