Sunday, April 11, 2010

Take me out to the ballgame

It's baseball season and all across the country fans are embracing the opportunity to head back to the ballpark, to enjoy a dog-and-beer, and perhaps to expose their youngsters to this very American of games.

In Chicago, one child's exposure to the game took a very different turn in that other American tradition when a parent takes a son or daughter to the game--the visit to the restroom.

Dr. Paul Nemeth, a lifelong White Sox fan, took his six year old to U.S. Cellular Field on opening day--a day they had planned since last season. During the game, after one too many soft drinks, Nemeth's son had to go to the restroom so the pair went to find the nearest facility. While standing in line for the urinal, Nemeth heard sounds coming from a nearby stall and noticed a man's legs and feet quivering noticeably. Being a trained emergency room doctor, Nemeth banged on the stall door, asking "you okay!?" A woman's voice answered, "leave us alone!" Moments later, a young man exited the stall, arms raised high in triumph; his companion left the stall hurriedly with a jacket over her head and face.

The saddest point to this story is the reaction of many of the other men in the restroom--the bathroom sex perpetrator was treated to high fives and "attaboys!" Meanwhile, a young father had to answer questions from his son--questions he had no expectation of receiving on a day hopefully reserved for baseball and father-son bonding.

Maybe this was just an Opening Day phenomenon--a day when baseball draws more of the fan who's interested in counting the number of adult beverages consumed versus the sacrifice fly driving in the go-ahead run on the field. Or perhaps it's indeed an example of the changing behavior of fans and the boorish activities which are becoming too prevalent in our professional sports stadiums around the U.S. Regardless, I'm tired of it and I feel badly for parents who hesitate to take a son or daughter to games, knowing that their fate could be a foul-mouthed, beer guzzling Neanderthal sitting behind them.

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