Sports rivalries need to stay on the field

The violence surrounding sporting events has grown to an unhealthy level, especially now that it has led to a homicide in The City over the Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers rivalry.

Rowdy spectators at sporting events have been the norm. Mix in alcohol and bitter rivalries and there are bound to be words exchanged and altercations.

But the past few years have been especially violent. There is the well-known incident of Giants fan Bryan Stow being beaten in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles after the 2011 season opener against the Giants.

Then later that same year, two people were shot and one was beaten during an especially rowdy preseason matchup between the 49ers and the Raiders. After that incident, the cross-Bay rivals decided to stop playing preseason games against each other.

On Wednesday night, the Giants-Dodgers rivalry became the flashpoint of violence again — this time in San Francisco. Jonathan Denver attended the game at AT&T Park with his brother and his father, who is a security guard at Dodger Stadium. About 90 minutes after the game, the group, which included his father's girlfriend and one other man, got into a verbal argument about the rivalry just blocks from the ballpark. During a fight, Denver was fatally stabbed.

The loss of life is greater than any game on the field is worth.

The Dodgers said it well in their statement about the incident: “There is no rational explanation for this senseless act which resulted in Jonathan's death.”

The deadly violence also comes during the same week when work was being done to help repair a past incident. Stow is still recovering from his attack, and the Giants are raising funds this week to help him and his family.

The Giants issued a statement in which they said: “There is absolutely no place in our community for this type of senseless violence.”

The problem is that not all of the fans have received that message.

Rivalries in sports can elevate games to a new level. And a certain amount of hooliganism is to be expected at and around sporting events, especially when the teams competing are fierce and longtime rivals.

But a firm line needs to be drawn at any violence that causes serious harm or that endangers lives. Sports are entertainment, and they are not worth dying or killing over.

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