Dear New York Islanders.
Congrats on the win today. Great game on the ice despite the outcome. Would have liked to see a little more overtime but that’s hockey. Unfortunately the fan experience left something to be desired. In fact it was the worst experience I have had in 30 years of attending sporting events.
I am a member of the New York City Capitals Fans and a dozen of us decided to take a trip to Long Island to see our Capitals play. We paid $158 each for terrible seats way up top with an obstructed view of the score boards but not quite high enough that we didn’t have drunk Islanders fans screaming at us to shut up.
Anyway, the day started out well. We got there early and tailgated and were greeted with plenty of smack talk but 90% of it was good natured. We had a great time before the game and even got to meet up with Caps play by play announcer John Walton who interviewed us for Caps Radio.
Unfortunately once the game started things went decidedly downhill. We were told to shut up and yelled all manor of things at us. The fans directly around us were pretty friendly but the people a few rows in front and a few rows behind were not. When the Islanders scored their first goal one of the guys behind me poured beer all over me. Homophobic bullshit was shouted at us all game and my friend Fatou had a number of racist comments directed at her.
Our group had bought seats in two different sections so during the second intermission we all met up at one of the out door smoking areas. We walked in together and were booed by everyone. It seemed good natured at first but then we were surrounded and things took a much darker turn. We were surrounded by several dozens of Islanders fans, some of whom blew smoke into the girls in our group’s faces. Several of them were actually pushing us but we clearly weren’t about to start a fight with that many people. I just held my Caps “Unleash The Fury” towel above my head (as seen in the above photos) and just took all the boos and chants of asshole and fun stuff like “fuck you faggot”.
At some point a drunk Islanders fan grabbed the rally towel out of my hands and as I tried to get it back Islanders fans swarmed me and it looked like it was going to turn into a brawl but security was quick to break it up. Of course the security guard blamed it on me for “instigating a fight” when all I was doing was silently holding a rally towel and smiling. When someone threw a bottle at our group I told the same security guard about it and he said “no one is throwing anything at you” despite the bottle landing at his feet.
Islanders fans tried to fight us and keyed our car. Classy as hell. pic.twitter.com/CdsUyBgfSn
— Nate Igor Smith (@drivenbyboredom) April 19, 2015
It should be noted that a few Islanders fans defended us and gave us props for holding our ground but the racism and homophobia and near violence wasn’t exactly a positive experience… and of course it would get worse.
When the game went to overtime and the Islanders won the fans around us started kicking our chairs and pounding on the seat backs on either side of our heads. The guys in front of us turned around and gave us the middle finger. As we left I had people yell “FUCK YOU” in my face and of course more “faggots” and comments about Fatou’s “black hair”.
When we made it to our cars we noticed that our friend Justin’s car had been keyed twice and his rear license plate had been stolen. A few Islanders fans could’t believe it and were pretty great about it but another drunk fan started screaming and bumping up into the face of several of our crew. At some point one of our members pushed him away after he jumped into us and that nearly started another brawl. I fortunately broke it up since I had no interest in going to jail but the guys still pissed right next to my friends car so that he had to stand in a puddle of urine to get into his car.
There was of course almost no security in the parking lot so when a couple of security guards finally came by in a golf cart we stopped them to let them know what happened to Justin’s car. They just told him to call the cops and as they drove off I saw one of them turn to the other and started laughing about the stolen license plate. It was pretty infuriating.
On top of that some of Islanders fans we had tailgated with earlier said they saw the guys who did it. As soon as we left they keyed the car and said “Fuck these Caps fans” as they took the plates off in front of a bunch of other fans who did nothing to stop them. I don’t know why they told us they saw it because they wouldn’t tell us who took it.
I have been to hundreds of professional sporting events in my life, mostly as an away team fan. While I have had some problems with fans in the past (Jets fans mostly) I have never had so many people be so shitty to me and my friends. There were a ton of Islanders fans that were cool to us but we had incident after incident today in a way that I have never seen. The combination of racism, sexism, homophobia, vandalism and violence was something almost impressive to behold. I even heard that some Isles fans were abusing a disabled child in an Ovechkin jersey.
Hopefully when you guys come to Brooklyn, the city I have lived for the last decade, you will do a much better job of controlling your drunk abusive fans and hire some security guards who do their jobs instead of just treating the visiting fans as the enemy. At the very least I am glad there won’t be any seats where you have to duck to see how much time is left in the game.
Thanks and I hope we are the last team to ever play in that awful “barn” you currently call home,
Nate “Igor” Smith
NYC Caps Fans
Update: Since this post blew up on the Internet I had a bunch of Islanders fans point out that I Tweeted that “These assholes should move to Brooklyn”. I could have deleted this Tweet but I am not going to. I am going to link to it instead. I talked plenty of smack today and I got a lot of smack talk back. 90% of it was fun. The other 10% was over the line. I could deal with most of it. What I don’t find acceptable is the vandalism, the shitty security or the racism/homophobia. I don’t care if some drunk asshole calls me a “faggot” that just looks bad on them. I do care when they say racist shit to my friends, pour beer on me and fuck up my friends car. And if any one of those things happened. I never would have written this post. But all of those things happened in one day. And I paid $158 for that experience.
I am a loud fan and I certainly don’t back down from anything, but calling all Islanders fans assholes is a very different thing from walking up to someone’s face and calling them an asshole. I never put a hand on an Islander fan and we certainly didn’t do anything to deserve any of the vandalism/ threats of violence or bigotry. Let’s Go Caps!