Is Our Generation Ruining America?
Major League Baseball has approved expanding nets across the front of stands along the baselines, and the Minor Leagues have followed suit.
Our own ballpark here in the Quad Cities will have expanded netting for the start of the 2017 season. The extra net will protect almost all seating sections that border the infield, with the announcement coming shortly after a young boy was hit by a line-drive foul ball, fracturing his nose and eye socket.
This decision from the top brass, and its shadowed footsteps all the way down to Modern Woodman Park seems to use as it's motivation the idea that if one person less is injured then it's worth whatever the sacrifice.
And that's the problem to me. Why is my generation, the last of the kids to ride without a car seat, so obsessed with preventing the unpreventable? It's baseball stadium netting today, maybe the decision to just not have baseball games in the future? Where does the need for safety outweigh the desire for an experience?
If the idea is the most safety, and to reduce or remove the possibility of injury, won't it someday follow that anywhere a baseball is hit into the stands, there should be netting? 415' dead center field? Yep, better get a net up there? Big Mac land in St. Louis? Upper Deck? Rope it off as well. Seem extreme? Maybe your argument is that the odds of injury occurring in those places is too unrealistic. I doubt that defense will hold against anyone who steps in with the, "If we can make it safer," argument, and a lawyer with a black-eyed client. As long as we use this idiotic idea that we all need to be protected from everything, the cost will eventually be everything.
I'm not suggesting that this boy, or his mom was responsible for the injury, or that anyone that gets hit with a ball should know better. But there are already places where you can watch a baseball game free from the risk of objects flying into the stands. And others where a safety net is already available.
We have to continue to use good judgement, or our ability to judge will disappear. Hanging nets along the dugouts, and down the baselines will eliminate an also-rare moment of joy when a kid makes a connection with a player, who tosses a ball to his outstretched hands over the dugout at the end of an inning. Isn't his experience just as important as keeping another kid from getting hit? Baseball has had a public relations problem for years, from boorish behavior of millionaire players towards fans, to performance-enhancing cheaters. Throw in the Players' strike and you have a lot of ground to make up with your paying fans. Putting up one more barrier is not the answer. That creates a greater gap.
Modern Woodman Ballpark, and the RiverBandits baseball team work harder for your dollar than any other business I know of. RiverBandits owner Dave Heller knows how valuable the fan experience is. He's expanded the game night idea to more than just baseball, and between-innings tomfoolery. He's created a venue-within-a-venue offering rides and experiences that enhance the baseball experience. It would be a terrible shame to suddenly come to the conclusion that a ferris wheel is too dangerous, or that a folding seat can pinch you, or that hot dogs are too hot! Isn't there some amount of responsibility we can accept for our own safety?
We have become the generation that doesn't accept risk. We've litigated all the fun out of everything. In the future I guess I'll try to find a seat that isn't "protected" from my own ability to ascertain risk/reward, but if you come for my hot dog, there's gonna be a fight.