Fanaticus Dramaticus: The Rage Page

Fanaticus Dramaticus: The Rage Page

July 26, 2015

July 25, 2015

Just released, this thriller of a film explores the controversial Stanford Prison Experiment devised by professor Philip Zimbardo in 1971. For the study, Zimbardo staffed a simulated prison with student volunteers to test the extent to which identity conforms to a specific social setting. Students randomly assigned to portray prison guards became mean and controlling, while those assigned to the role of inmates became antiauthoritarian and withdrawn. The volunteers accepted their roles so completely that Zimbardo feared the outcome of his experiment and shut it down six days early.

Fanaticus addresses how seemingly good people can turn into monsters when they go to sporting events by drawing on Zimbardo’s research along with other sources. “If you want to change a person, you’ve got to change the situation,”  Zimbardo says in a 2008 Ted Talk. “If you want to change the situation, you’ve got to know where the power is, in the system.”  What that means is, it’s not a matter of a few “bad apples,” but a “bad barrel”—the social setting and system contaminate the individual. He cautions us to examine collective responsibility for atrocities. In fact, much of Zimbardo’s more recent work focuses on real prisons like Abu Ghraib and the vicious acts of prison guards there.

Extrapolating this thinking  to the sports world would put some of the blame for bad behavior on the sporting institutions themselves. One way to look at it: it’s going to take a village to manage the village idiot. Shaming an individual for a lack of personal responsibility is not enough.


July 24, 2015

July 23, 2015

Aine (age 7): Dad, is this book about something bad? (looking at scary picture on the cover)
Scott: It’s about sports fans doing crazy things at sporting events. Sometimes the do bad things.
Aine: Why do they do that?
Scott: they think they can get away with it – they think they can hide in a crowd.
Aine: so people get all dressed up in crazy costumes and get arrested?
Scott: no they don’t get arrested because they dress funny – they do bad things hurt other people and stuff.
Aine is not interested in this book.

Clara and Ronan (ages 5 and 3): let me see! Let me see! What is it?
Scott: It’s a book written by my friend, Justine.  Here is her picture.
C& R: does it have any other pictures?
Scott: No
No interest there either.

Scott: This is excellent news.  They might actually leave me alone while I read it!


July 20, 2015

July 20, 2015

When Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times wanted to know why violence in the stands and online rage is spreading, he turned to Fanaticus to help him understand. Read the whole story here

In his piece, Baker includes two stand-out Seattle incidents.

On March 24, 1990, at a Western Hockey League playoff game between the Seattle Thunderbirds and  The Tri-City Americans held at the Seattle Center Coliseum, spectators fought with players in a melee that was captured on television. Four fans were arrested, five others ejected and one police officer was injured.

Baker calls it  “one of our city’s ugliest sports incidents.”

Another example of unruliness in his hometown: police officers as boorish fans.

In 2012, two off-duty Bellevue police officers  were booted from a Seattle Seahawks game for  “rude and obnoxious behavior.” According to an investigation, the officers, Andrew Hanke and Dion Robertson had started drinking at home at 9 a.m. and then tailgated pre-game.

All fodder for Fanaticus Part II.  Thanks Geoff!


July 19, 2015

July 17, 2015

After a radio appearance on “Midday 180” WGFX-FM which you can listen to here, a listener reached out on Twitter to complain I hadn’t mentioned Alabama fans as an example of bad behavior.

Trust me, I hear that from UCLA fans about USC fans, Michigan fans about Michigan State etc.etc.

But kudos to Jeremy for tweeting this:









It’s a mugshot array of Alabama fans gone wrong.

That’s Adrian Briskey who was mentioned before here on the Rage Page.  Don’t expect to see her on trial for the shooting death of another Alabama fan before this winter.

Next to her is Brian Downing.  I’ll simply let this story explain his transgression. Downing served close to 8 months in jail for this incident and was sued by the victim in civil court. According to Downing’s attorney, they have reached a tentative confidential settlement.

Harvey Updyke Jr. is on the far right.  He’s the Alabama fan who went to jail for poisoning  the oak trees that graced Toomer’s Corner at Auburn.

To be fair there are some great traditions associated with Alabama football.  I myself have been lucky enough to sample Dreamland bbq.

Regardless, Jeremy’s  mugshot tweet gets major points for creativity.



July 10, 2015









Join Justine in conversation with Josh McHugh @Mc_Huge at the main branch of the SF Public Library

Wednesday July 15th 6:30pm  100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Downstairs in the Latino/Hispanic room

Books available for purchase and signing

For more info, click here


July 09, 2015





Just returned from the NCS4 National Conference in Orlando, Florida.






Gave a keynote presentation where I talked about Internet trolling by fans, history of bad fandom, what makes sports fan tick and how to reframe the security narrative when it comes to bad behavior.



Learned a lot about the latest security technology for stadiums  from hi tech bag screening to geomapping to “vapor wake” dogs that sniff for bombs on moving targets. You know how most bomb sniffing dogs work their magic around stationary object like a trash can?  It takes 8 weeks to train dogs to be able to detect explosives in pedestrian traffic, like on a person walking through a crowd wearing a knapsack and it’s a patented technology.

I spend time in Fanaticus in Chapter 5 talking about the decision universities face when it comes to serving alcohol at collegiate sporting events.  Basically, they must decide whether this is a good way to monitor and regulate drinking at games (and reap some economic benefits)  or does it just add fuel to an already raging fire? At the time Fanaticus went to press, at least 30 schools were serving booze inside the gates at football games.  For 2015, TEAM Coalition’s Executive Director Jill Pepper reported to the conference  that this number has climbed to at least 38. That’s a jump of  21 percent.  I think we know which way the wind is blowing. Look for Maryland and Texas to make beer and wine available to fans at concession stands this coming season.








Photo credits: NCS4