Major League Baseball Fan Foul Ball Fatalities in Context: Soccer, Tour de France and Racing FAR More Dangerous to Fans than Foul Balls
After Andy Zlotnick commented on my Twitter feed and compared baseball to the X-Games and “Reality TV”, as he did in the HBO Real Sports episode I discussed in an earlier two posts (PART I and PART II), I started to wonder if baseball really is as dangerous to spectators and players as people keep claiming. The counterargument is predicated on the idea that 1750 fans are injured every year at Major League Baseball games. That’s the number Bryant Gumbel indicated in Real Sports and it’s the number a lot of others also misrepresent. They assume that is the number of fans hit by balls and bats each season. It’s actually the number of fans injured in relation to a ball or bat. That is, fans often injure themselves going for a ball or ducking out of the way of an errant bat.
All this got me to wondering. As it turns out baseball is one of the safest for spectators and participants. With a rounded up number of 2000 fans injured in relation to a foul ball or bat, and considering one fan in 100+ years has died, I started looking at other fan fatalities in other sports.
THE DEADLIEST SPORTS
Soccer is by far the most deadly professional sport. It has riots. Over 800 people have died over the last 20 years as a result of hatred between fans who’ve gone on to pummel one another to death after a match. Baseball fans tend to riot only when their team wins the World Series, and while a few fans have died as a result of riots, we don’t come close to 800 deaths. Granted, these are fans rioting, and it’s not directly associated with fan injuries, but remember the 1750 people identified as being injured at Major League Baseball games includes fan injuries which are bumps and bruises resulting from fights over foul balls. So the comparison holds up. Thus, soccer has the most fan deaths. While fans don’t get killed as a direct result of the game, they do kill one another in droves. Several sources indicate there are roughly 1000 soccer-related deaths since the mid-1900s. The fan-on-fan violence is even growing in intensity according to the Wall Street Journal. Racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and just plain anger over a loss accounts for all the turmoil. Granted, all other sports have their fan-on-fan issues too, but not nearly to the extent of over 1000 deaths.
According to “9 Tragic Tour de France Death” the Tour de France had three fan deaths between 2000-2009. That’s one every 3 years and three times the number of fan deaths the MLB has in over 100 years of playing. Those three are simply the most tragic spectator deaths. There are many more deaths though.
Racing—NASCAR, Indy and Grand Prix combined—account for well over 100 fan deaths since the 1955 Le Mans tragedy which left 81 (some accounts say 82 or 83) spectators dead. Six spectators were killed in 1998 alone. That, in and of itself is six times more deaths than MLB has in a century. Another report indicates more than 520 spectators have died at races…in 25 years.
READ THE REST at FoulBallz.com