Red Sox, city of Boston, and colleges to student fans: celebrate responsibly
By Brian Fitzgerald
During the Boston Red Sox quest to win their first world championship in 86 years, the team, the city of Boston, and New England colleges and universities have had a message for young fans: keep the faith, but also stay safe.
BU officials advised students without World Series tickets to stay away from the Kenmore Square area during and after the games, and invited them to watch the action in the George Sherman Union, where free food and postgame raffles enticed thousands. And beginning October 27, students had the opportunity to watch the World Series on a large TV screen at Nickerson Field.
“For your well-being and safety, do not go to the Kenmore Square area during or after the baseball games unless you have tickets for admission,” wrote Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore in an October 22 e-mail to all students — his second of three regarding postgame behavior. His first message was e-mailed prior to the Red Sox–Yankees playoff games.
On October 21, victory celebrations were marred by vandalism and violence on or near several college campuses in Massachusetts following a Red Sox win over the New York Yankees. Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove, 21, died after she was hit in the eye with a pepper-filled pellet fired by a Boston Police officer on Lansdowne Street. The same type of projectile injured Kapila Bhamidipati (ENG’07) when he was struck in the forehead. Another man was hit in the face with a pellet fired by police.
“You put yourself at risk by being a bystander in a large, unorganized crowd, despite a heavy protective police presence nearby,” wrote Elmore. The message was also posted on the BU Web site, along with an accompanying message to parents of students, urging them to read the letter and discuss it with their offspring.
Elmore warned students about the possible ramifications of rowdy revelry. “In addition to any criminal prosecution, Boston University students involved in any illegal or inappropriate behavior will be subject to University judicial sanctions, including University expulsion.” In a third letter, e-mailed October 27, Elmore wrote that BU will also investigate complaints and examine video and photos of students engaged in lawless acts.
Well over 2,000 students at the George Sherman Union witnessed the Red Sox defeat the Yankees, 10-3, in game seven of the league championship. The Metcalf Ballroom has hosted many televised events in the past, including BU hockey playoffs, Super Bowls, Academy Awards shows, and presidential and vice presidential debates. However, aside from offering the luxury of being able to watch Johnny Damon hit a grand slam on a 20-foot-by-20-foot television screen, the recent Red Sox telecasts have had an additional benefit: the gathering of the BU portion of the Red Sox Nation in one place for communal worship of their heroes.
“We continue to bring BU students together in a safe and alcohol-free environment to watch these games,” says Carolyn Norris, director of the Student Activities Office (SAO).
Ballpark food and postgame prizes were also being offered at Nickerson Field. Elmore pointed out that according to baseball lore, Babe Ruth signed the contract sending him from the Red Sox to the Yankees in an office adjoining Nickerson Field — formerly Braves Field. “I couldn’t think of a better place to witness the end of the Babe Ruth curse,” said Elmore in an interview.
The telecasts have been sponsored by the SAO and the Student Union’s Programming Council. Game seven of the league championship drew by far the most fans: about 1,500 in Metcalf Hall, along with several hundred in the Union Court and the new basement lounge, called BU Central. A total of 12 television screens showed the game in the three locations. “We raffled off prizes such as a free semester’s worth of books, iPods, digital cameras, DVDs, and Red Sox jerseys and jackets,” says Norris. “A lot of students stuck around after the game for the raffle.”
The initial World Series audiences at the GSU were smaller — possibly because the heated rivalry was missing — so the telecasts were limited to the Union Court and BU Central. But enthusiasm still ran high, and students streamed in for games one, two, and three, taking advantage of free hot dogs, soda, popcorn, and chips — not to mention a large-screen TV.
“I think games being shown here is a good thing,” said Sujith Papali (CAS’05) in BU Central shortly before game two. “This helps bring the BU community together.”
Jeremiah Thompson (STH’06), who lives off-campus, chose BU Central for the second game “because my house doesn’t have a TV that gets good reception, and obviously doesn’t have a screen this big.” He added that the free food “is certainly good incentive for students to come, especially the ones who don’t live in dorms and aren’t on any meal plan.”
Victor Bieger (SMG’08), who watched game one in BU Central, said viewers’ energy level wasn’t as high as it was during the league championship series, “but it’s still nice just to be around so many people that are all into the game.” Did he think the postgame raffles were keeping students from venturing into Kenmore Square after games? “Well, the chance to win an iPod will keep some of them around,” he said.
Bieger believed that some students who read Elmore’s e-mails were thinking twice about heading into the Fenway Park area after games. “I think that a lot of people in dorms went down there just because people on their floor were going,” he said. “So the e-mails will probably dissuade some of the casual fans. It won’t stop those that are intent on heading over. But hopefully it will keep some away who just want to see what’s happening — they can watch it from the helicopter’s view on TV in their dorms, instead of being right in the middle of it.”
The message on responsible behavior has spread in the city, backed up by a large police presence around Fenway Park, a promise from bar owners to reduce lines outside their doors and not to serve intoxicated patrons, and pleas from college officials — and even Red Sox players — for fans to help keep the peace.
“We don’t want violence and craziness,” said Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling in a public service announcement on Fox Television. “Don’t take our accomplishments and turn them into something detrimental. Don’t let this phenomenon be marred by sadness and tragedy. Celebrate responsibly. We’re proud of you, just as you’re proud of us.”