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 ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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