Richard Bleier, a reliever for the Boston Red Sox, recently took to social media to call out the behavior of some fans of his former team, the Baltimore Orioles. Bleier criticized what he called “completely inappropriate” behavior from a small group of Orioles fans during a recent series at Camden Yards.
In a post shared on Twitter and Instagram, Bleier wrote, “I’m all for passionate, enthusiastic fans, but if you’re going to be rude, disrespectful, and make personal attacks towards players, you’re crossing a line. It’s completely inappropriate and has no place in sports or any other aspect of life.”
Bleier, who spent parts of four seasons in Baltimore before being traded to Miami last year and signed with Boston this offseason, did not offer specific examples of the behavior he witnessed. However, he did make it clear that he doesn’t believe such behavior should be tolerated.
“It’s sad to see a small group of people ruin it for the rest of the Orioles fans who are truly passionate and respectful. It’s also sad to see how social media has become such a toxic place for athletes, where people can say whatever they want with little to no repercussions,” he wrote.
Bleier’s comments come amid a larger conversation about the behavior of sports fans, particularly when it comes to racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. In recent years, numerous athletes have spoken out about their experiences with abuse from fans, both in person and online.
While Bleier did not specifically address issues of bigotry in his post, his message about the importance of respect and decency towards athletes is an important one. As sports continue to be a major part of our culture, it’s crucial that fans remember that the players they’re rooting for are real people with feelings, families, and lives outside of the game.
There will always be passionate disagreements and heated rivalries in sports. But as Bleier reminds us, we need to draw a line between passionate fandom and disrespectful behavior. That line is an important one to maintain if we want to uphold the integrity of sports and create a culture of respect and inclusivity.