Gripes with Sports Fans: Autographs

     Autographs.  It’s amazing how much personal, cultural, and sometimes even monetary value society gives to just a small handwriting sample.  If you think about it, that’s all an autograph really is.  They aren’t incredibly rare- the people important enough to be signing autographs end up signing a lot of them, and unless they come on a holographic baseball card, they probably aren’t worth too much.  However, that doesn’t stop some people from going a little overboard in order to get one.
     One recent autograph signing incident occurred during New York Giants training camp, and although it didn’t receive much press, it sufficiently embarrassed me as a Giants fan.  The incident occurred after practice, when receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz were to be signing autographs for fans.  According to reports, the surge in people all fighting in order to meet two of the NFL’s biggest stars proved too much for part of the bleachers fans were standing on, causing them to collapse.  As people were being removed from the area, people raced over a woman having a seizure, nearly trampling her, along with repeatedly shoving a young girl into a fence to get closer to the wide receiver duo.  Beckham Jr. and Cruz were quickly escorted away before anyone was seriously injured.
     The first thing that strikes me with this story is just the appalling lack of maturity displayed by these fans.  Sure, everyone wanted a chance to get their autographs, but that doesn’t mean the situation had to become hectic.  Grown men and women were shoving each other around, along with children, acting like spoiled kids.  However, the part that strikes me the most is the woman who had a seizure.  Did no one notice the person they were stepping over, and try to make sure she was all right?  Or is getting your hat signed more important than the well-being of others?
     Now, in response to the situation, the Giants have instituted a new rule stating that only kids aged 12 and under are allowed to receive autographs.  While the rule is understandable, I disagree with its implementation.  I believe that there should not be age limits on autographs, and here’s why.  First of all, the limit of 12 seems low.  That means even most middle schoolers wouldn’t be allowed.  These are still kids!  If there should be a limit at all, I feel 18 would be an appropriate age.  However, we need to ask ourselves a question.  Why are so many adults going out of their way to get autographs from NFL players?  Surely they realize autographs are basically there for kids, right?  Here’s the deal: these people are getting the autographs for their kids.  There was a point in my life where I thought autographs were incredibly cool, and no doubt most kids had this phase.  The vast majority of us will grow out of this with time, just as I did.  However, until that age comes, parents should be able to get autographs for their kids, knowing it will make their kid’s day.
     However, we still need to be civilized about this.  I have no problem with teams kicking out fans getting too crazy about these special signatures, because order must be maintained.  You want to get an autograph?  Wait in line peacefully, like everybody else.  Lunacy should not be rewarded.  Let’s all keep our common sense.
     Another autograph-crazy fan situation occurred just a couple weeks ago, when Stephen Curry tweeted that a fan had been tailing Curry and his family in their car for 30 miles, just hoping to receive an autograph from the current NBA MVP and reigning NBA Finals Champion.  Again, this one goes down as a lack of respect and decency.  Athletes are people too, guys.  They aren’t just characters that appear on television to play a game every now and again.  They have families, and feelings, and stalking them is just as bad as stalking any other person.
     Autographs can be a cool way to brag to your friends that you met a famous sports-figure, or a memory that you can cherish, but please remember to go about getting one the right way.

     P.S.  On the topic of autographs, I would like to note how ridiculous it is that the NCAA prohibits players from profiting off giving autographs.  Players should be allowed to profit off themselves.  If people are willing to pay players for autographs, more power to them.  It gives these student-athletes money that many of them need, and can motivate them to train and play harder.  It makes no sense that they are not allowed to profit, when disgraced baseball player Pete Rose makes over a million dollars each year just by selling his name.

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