Remember When Sports Were Family-Friendly?

BaseballI attended my first professional baseball game with my dad when I was about 5 years old. We headed to Chavez Ravine to see the Dodgers take on the Pirates. All I remember is that we were in left field somewhere and the old side-armer, Kent Tekulve, closed the Dodgers out for a Pirates victory (Boooo). In those days baseball was clearly a family affair. Among the major sports, it still may be the most family-friendly. However…

On Saturday night, I took my daughters to Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres for a game. Petco is well known as one of the most family-friendly parks in baseball. The clientele is generally thug-free, and there are all sorts of cool things for kids—like a miniature ball field for kids to play on, and a seating section called "the Beach" with bleacher like seating in right-center field with an enormous sand pit for kids to play in. That's where we were sitting.

It was David Eckstein bobble-head night and the girls were looking forward to getting a "google-head" as Olivia put it. We got there in time to each get one, and had a blast at the game. The girls played in the sand. Dad gorged himself on ballpark fair while watching the game. But, when it came time to leave, we discovered that 2 of our 3 bobble-heads were missing. The one left behind was broken. The girls handled it remarkably well…but I thought to myself, "Who steals bobble-heads from kids at a game at Petco Park? May those bobble-heads be as Achan's goblet in their home J"

776-Vomiting_Fan_Arrested_sff_standalone_prod_affiliate_9Here's another question: Who intentionally pukes on a dad and his 11-year-old daughter at a baseball game? The answer: Matthew Clemmens (pictured left). What a tool! Click here to read the awful story.

On opening day in Anaheim, on the field level, a man was tossed for spitting on fans a row behind me. This is Orange County. Usually people argue about whose Broker is better. They don't spit on each other.

Anyone been to Left-Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium recently?

Now that I'm starting to sound like Andy Rooney, here's the point: I think sports are a good thing and something families should be able to share together. They should be able to afford it, and they should be able to come and go without being thrown up on, intimidated, robbed, or something else. I'm running out of options. Can't take my daughters to an NFL game. The NBA is pretty expensive, and soccer would kill me from boredom. Hockey…yeah, sure.

That brings me back to baseball. Cheap tickets (if you'll sit a ways away), lots of promotions (like fireworks and "googleheads" J) and lots of history. I guess I'll head back to the ballpark again soon with the girls…and keep an eye out.

What's the best family spectator sport? I'm going baseball, but there's a difference depending on where you live. Petco and Anaheim are great parks despite recent experiences. Here's the other question: What is the least family-friendly sport to attend?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “Remember When Sports Were Family-Friendly?

  1. My family and I will be taking in a Padres game this summer while in San Diego. We would normally wear the local colors, but since they are playing the Astros, we will being wearing Astros gear.
    We will see how friendly they are!

  2. My family and I will be taking in a Padres game this summer while we are in San Diego. Normally, I would wear the local teams colors, but since they are playing the Astros, we will be wearing Astros gear.
    We will see how well we are treated!

  3. I have taken my children to a couple of Colorado Rockies games and havn’t had any problems. As a child, we never had problems seeing the Cubs in Wrigley Field or the Cardinal at the old Busch Stadium. Watching the White Sox at the old Comiskey Park is another story and one reason why I grew up to detest the White Sox (and the last time I saw the White Sox play in the new stadium, I found it interesting to hear the Chicago police encouraging a Twins fan outside the stadium to remove his Twins hat for his own safety).
    Philadelphia is notorious for being a hostile environment to anyone perceived as being an outsider but puking on someone goes way beyond verbal harassment. It is an offence that potentially places the victims health in serious jeopardy and I hope this person receives a prison sentense for this crime.
    Any ways, perhaps the most family friendly baseball game is a Triple A game. When we lived in Memphis we would see a lot of Redbird games (triple A affiliate of the Cardinals) and lower deck infield seats were only $15 and the venue security did a great job making sure that alcohol consumption did not become a problem for anyone.
    Grace and peace,

  4. most family friendly: i have to go with baseball. and i like the minor league games as well. i hate to say this in front of baseball lovers, but i think a lot of the reason baseball games are so entertaining is because the game itself is so slow. they have to put something fun in there for people to watch.
    i’d also say college sports have a good chance at being family friendly — especially the lesser watched sports. there are small crowds, cheap tickets (or free), and often some kind of entertainment and/or giveaways.
    also, any time you get a chance to see a national team play a sport, it’s usually fairly family friendly (nearly all the fans are going to be pulling for the u.s., so there are unlikely to be fights, etc. i love going to u.s. soccer matches.
    least family friendly: soccer in europe or south america?

  5. Most family friendly – minor league baseball games. All of the action at a fraction of the cost. They also tend to have some great family promotions. Bonus points for guys hustling on every play trying to make the bigs.
    Least family friendly – I would have to imagine home games for the Oakland Raiders. There are convicted felons afraid to go the black hole.