When sports fandom crosses the line

Psychology professor Daniel Wann and ESPN’s Elle Duncan and Kevin Negandhi discuss extreme fans who put teams, players and fans at risk.
7:38 | 06/23/21

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Transcript for When sports fandom crosses the line
Let's turn now to a headline we saw in "The atlantic" recently, caught our attention, look at this, it reads the ugly side of NBA fan domestic can no longer be ignored, a problem that athletes know all too well, the communal passion of fans is tipping into venom and vitriol. So today, we assembled a panel of experts to explore this further. Joining us now is Dr. Ashton along with Dr. Daniel Wann and ESPN's "Sportscenter" anchors elle Duncan and Kevin neghandi. Thank you all for being with us this afternoon. Elle, I want to start with you and go back to 2004, where there was a real watershed moment, the malice at the palace, a brawl, broke out between players and spectators, and a lot of experts said that was a tipping point, are we at another of those moment. The malice in the palace started with someone throwing a diet soda. It ha so ripple effects. Banning alcohol sales in the fourth quarter, such a fallout. I feel like back then to see players and fans fighting it was this sort of visceral reaction, and now we've gotten at this point, because of social media we're watching people fight all the time, fan interaction and sports has this beautiful mix that can sometimes turn quite dangerous a sense of entitlement, people pay their money and they feel like, because I paid money I'm going to watch you do whatever you want, I can say to you whatever I want, combine this sort of tribalism that comes along with a sports fan, and the pack mentality, I have watched grandmas cussing athletes up and down because once they are in these heightened environments it causes destruction and violence. This sense of entitlement in the stadium, but it also feels like Twitter in the arena, because you can almost hide behind and do whatever you want to and say whatever you want to say, you're not going to say that to a dude walking down the street, what makes them so comfortable in that arena? There's no consequence. They could say whatever they want and there's no consequence and as elle brought up, the dms, you can slide into dms with no repercussions. When you look at this specifically, too, it's a tipping point now because for 15 months, you've been indoors and suddenly you're surrounded by thousands of people and you have alcohol mixing into this, and suddenly you can say and feel like you can do whatever you want with that pack mentality. I also think part of this is coming out of the pandemic. Dr. Wann, I want to bring you in here, you've written the book on fan psychology and obviously the mental health aspect of this, you say that there are both situational and personal contributing factors in this aggression, what does that mean? Explain that. Yes, so, when I talk to my students in my classes, the one great truth of psychology, if you want to understand people, why people do what they do and feel what they feel, think what they think, you'll have to consider the person they are and the situation where they are and sports fan aggression is no different. Why fans do these things, they about out, they act violently, we have to look at who the fan is and where the fan is, from the perspective of who the fan is, team identification, that's simply the fan's psychological connection to his or her team. How much is being a fan of that team is a special part of their identity. Well, if you're a highly identified fan being a fan of this team is who you are, when the team loses, the team didn't just lose you feel like you lost when the ref makes a bad call against the team you feel like the ref made a bad call against you. You're more likely to act in an upsetting manner. We look at this situation, one of the key factors when they're at these game they feel anonymous. They can kind of hide in the crowd. The mob mentality. All of the fans around them they have cell phones because they have this sense they're anonymous. I might do things otherwise I wouldn't try if I could be singled out. You were just referencing that anonmity. When you're in a crowd it seems like counterintuitive that you would somehow still have that on you, when you're looking at how to prevent it, how to stop this from happening again, what are the options, what do teams do, what does security do, how do we prevent this? Lifetime bans, not indefinite bans. If you do something like this don't ever come back inside the stadiums. But with indefinite bans, to me also pressing charges. Don't just put this on the players specifically, the team, the organization as well as the facility should be allowed to be in a position to press charges. I watch these incidents. I get nervous, I get scared that a player, the wrong player, having the wrong day, what if a player retaliates? What happens? We remember that story line about this majority black league, these black players, thug this, all this, what happens, and how close are we to -- at some point the wrong player is going to say -- The level of restraint that we have seen, we're talking about the NBA, but the level of restraint, trae young getting spit on in msg, but we saw what happened, you know, the fallout is for Ron artest lost $5 million, there were sanctions, everything was changed. They implemented a dress code. They painted the NBA players as thugs who aren't able to show any kind of restraint. But we want to remember that there are so many positives, to going and watching a sport, it's a privilege to be a fan, youth to pro. So hopefully we can remember that. I'm glad you said privilege, too. No doubt about it. An important one. Let's not get it twisted. We need fans in the stands. The players wouldn't have it any other way. With all this animosity that's currently brewing, they would prefer to have fans in the stands than not. They rely on each other. Don't let a few apples spoil the entire bunch. And it's game night. Go hawks. Go hawks. Oh, yes. Sorry. What about the Stanley cup? Stanley cup as well. I have heard a little bit about our rivalry. Good to have you here. Thanks for having us here. Thank you so much. We appreciate your time and inyour insight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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