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Is a Ticket to a Sporting Event a Ticket to Shout Insults at the Athletes?

Posted by Peter Post  September 17, 2013 07:00 AM

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I was watching the BMW tournament on Saturday afternoon. As sure as the sun rises in the east, I could hear a fan shout “In the hole” a fraction of a second after a shot was made. I marvel at the ability of the pros to completely ignore such inane outbursts.

But then, within the space of about forty-five minutes a couple of boorish fans went over the limit. Sergio Garcia was the first victim. Right in the middle of his backswing on his second shot to the par 5 18th hole, a “Go Tiger” resounded across the fairway, clearly meant to rattle Garcia. Garcia mishit his shot, and then he looked for the perpetrator off to his left. To his credit, he just shook his head and started up the fairway.

The second incident occurred when Zach Johnson was putting on the 18th green. He missed his putt and as he walked to mark the ball, Johnson looked up all of a sudden and started scanning the crowd. Clearly, someone had said something to get Johnson’s attention. While you could not hear what the fan said to him, later reports indicated it went something like “Zach, you suck!” Johnson then sunk his tap-in putt to finish the round. His playing partner, Nick Watney, then sunk his putt, shook hands with Johnson and started pointing at a person in the crowd. As they left the green the two of them went over to the stands and pointed again. Then Johnson and Watney had what appeared to be words with the offensive individual before heading out to sign their cards.

So the question is: Does a ticket to attend a sporting event include the right to shout insults at the athletes?

When is enough, enough? When such behavior is condoned because nothing is done about it, then the perpetrators will assume, quite correctly, that the behavior is acceptable and continue to do it.

Johnny Miller, the preeminent announcer/analyst in the game, has commented that the best way pros can deal with this kind of idiocy is to do what Garcia did: Ignore it and move on.

But what about the PGA? When is it going to decide to hold fans accountable for their rude behavior? As long as these loudmouths aren’t sanctioned for their actions, they will continue.

What do you think? Is a ticket to an event a ticket to shout insults at the athletes? If not, what should be done to deal with people who do?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."

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