As we learn more of the unnecessary and unfortunate events that unfolded last night after the Battle of the Bay the more it becomes clear what the real problem is. Bay Area News Group is among the first news outlets to report gang affiliation as one of the culprits for the violence that took place. Naturally the next leap is to make a direct association with Raider Nation.
Not so fast.
Using a sporting event – where public support for your affiliation is not only tolerated but encouraged – as an excuse to insight or settle gang feuds should not be confused as a snapshot for an entire fan base. In other words, just because a few priests use the cloth as a cloak to conceal their true nature doesn’t mean the entire religion is flawed.
But this is the argument that inevitably ensues whenever the words Raiders and fan enter the same sentence.
Raiders CEO Amy Trask issued the following statement in support of the true members of Raider Nation.
“The overwhelming majority of Raiders fans — just like the overwhelming majority of fans of all teams — are terrific people and terrific fans. Every team – in every sport – has a handful of followers that do not behave in an acceptable manner – and to stereotype fans of any one team is unfair — and we should all know better than to do this.”
Any time a senseless tragedy occurs there is an inevitable desire to devise a sensible explanation. That’s just human nature. Where things get confused is when the shortest path is taken.
To be sure the Oakland Raiders must do something in a very public manner to address the issues that follow the franchise. That being said, Al Davis is no more responsible for what happened last night than the manufacturer of the guns used is. One is not synonymous with another but there is still a moral obligation that comes with being an entity as visible as a franchise in this country’s most profitable sport.
The Raiders need to use their high profile to help affect change. This is one of those necessary obligations that comes with being influential even if that influence is unintended or undesired.
On a large scale many will make a direct link to the fan base. And yes, if you look hard enough at any fan base you’ll find similarities. As the nation at large has come to learn, gang culture is deeply woven into the culture in California. Therein lies the real issue.
Don’t think for a second that the Raiders are alone in this. Anybody who has lived in certain areas of this state and even throughout the country will tell you that the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Astros and even the Chicago White Sox have a connection to gang activity whether they realize it or not.
The problem goes further than a rowdy atmosphere at a football game. Yes, there are plenty of idiotic circumstances that arise solely out of overzealous support for a team. That happens in every country.
The problem is something is widely known yet largely ignored. Many act as if gang activity is a thing of the past in a decade long ago. A decade called the 90’s. For those that don’t know, little has changed in just over 20 years. Like all things in society the problem has only evolved in order to blend in. Not at all different than the criminals disguised in three-piece suits the difference is these animals are just cowards scapegoating their actions on NFL licensed products.