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In the past, the dangers of being a baseball fan have mostly consisted of watching out for foul balls, broken bats and rowdy fans. However, in the last year and more recently in the past few weeks, the baseball community has been faced with the tragedy of two Ranger’s fans dying from falling over the railings in front of their seats. How could this tragedy have happened, you ask? What can be done to prevent such things from happening again in the future?
The answer is as simple as it is complicated. These fans were just at the games, having a nice time with their friends or family and due to the lack of netting or high railings to prevent them from leaning too far over, their lives were cut short. Of course, one could argue that these people should not have been leaning over in the first place, but fans do this everyday trying to catch fly balls.
It is also probable that a person who is in the midst of a frenzy of people who are celebrating a great play, or going for balls themselves could be accidently knocked off balance and run the risk of falling over the usually modest railing.
Therefore, something has to be done. Taller railings, you say? Yes, that might work, but then you run the risk of impeding a fan’s view of the game. Then ticket sales might go down. Then the team goes bankrupt.
Alright, how about not letting people sit in the front row? Well, then what’s the point of having a front row to begin with? People in the next row up are still going to push and dive and fight for balls.
This is a dilemma, but one where the question of safety needs to be paramount. Here is a suggestion based upon some careful thought, and on the experience of one lucky guy who was narrowly saved from going over the edge.
During the Home-Run Derby a few weeks ago, a man on a high tier of the stadium leaned over the classically too short railing but thankfully, was grabbed in time by two friends. As he hung from the deck, the people around him (apart from his friends who were holding him as the other seats of the stadium loomed below) seemed unfazed and were clearly very focused on catching the ball. Thank goodness for that guy’s friends.
Therefore, it is clear that every fan is in need of the same kind of protection that those friends provided. No, I’m not suggesting that every stadium hire personal bodyguards for each fan who sits in front of a railing. Rather, I’d say that stadiums should seriously consider installing something along the lines of netting, whether it be basket type nets that could catch people who fall over from the upper decks or vertical and non-view obstructing nets (like the kind behind home plate) that would prevent people from going over all together.
This may sound like an idea to turn baseball stadiums into a giant man made spider-web of nets, but in the long run it, or an idea like it, would save lives that should never be lost.