Reimer: Wall-to-wall coverage of Tyreek Hill beer-throwing incident is a downright embarrassment

Alex Reimer
October 16, 2018 - 12:20 pm

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Tyreek Hill beer-throwing incident should’ve had a shorter shelf-life than one of Khloe Kardashian’s romantic forays. A college-aged Patriots fan, who was probably intoxicated, threw the remaining drops of his beer at Hill after the Chiefs wideout had caught his third touchdown of the game Sunday night. The video quickly went viral and the Patriots banned the man from Gillette Stadium. He is also facing a disorderly conduct charge, which shouldn’t cost him more than an $150 fine

In any sane world, the story would end there. But that’s not good enough for the outrage mob, driven by sanctimonious national sports pundits and empty-headed TV news reporters and producers. This 21-year-old kid from Mansfield must be publicly shamed and used as a symbol to represent our decline in civility. Because sports fans never heckled or threw objects at players  prior to the social media age, right Scott Van Pelt?

“This is completely unacceptable behavior and it’s a byproduct of this made-up world fueled by social media where you think you can just say anything you want to to somebody with no consequence,” Van Pelt lectured on “SportsCenter” Monday. “In this instance, you think you can throw a beer at someone’s face because — why? — you bought a ticket? No. Cause you know that Hill can’t do anything to retaliate because if he does, you’ll sue him.”

Condemning unruly fan behavior is one of the easiest takes out there. Nobody in their right mind will defend somebody throwing beer at an athlete, even if that football player was charged with domestic assault and battery for strangling his pregnant girlfriend four years ago. It is an act that best belongs in ramshackle fraternity houses, not at Gillette Stadium or any public venue.

Since lambasting the fan takes no courage or guts, the indignant social media fury reached a fever pitch. ESPN investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr. says the person should be banned for life from all Boston sports venues.

Making matters more ridiculous, Hill originally said the episode doesn’t bother him at all (I’m discounting the publicity-seeking joint statement he released with agent Drew Rosenhaus, suggesting the fan should be criminally prosecuted). In these instances, nobody should be more offended than the victim. But then local TV news crews would’ve had to come up with another inane storyline to clog up our screens with. On Monday, all five local news stations –– WBZ, WCVB, WHDH, NBC 10 and the rebranded Boston 25 –– featured wall-to-wall coverage of this silliness. Vapid teleprompter readers spent their afternoons and evenings staked outside Gillette Stadium, throwing to pre-recorded interviews with fans who –– wait for it –– would never consider throwing beer on an athlete at a sporting event. 

The Foxboro police chief even felt compelled to hold a press conference on the matter, which stations branded with a “breaking news” banner.

According to Pew Research Center, 47-percent of Americans get their news from local TV. And for the last 24 hours, the beer-throwing incident has been positioned as one of the biggest stories in the city. No wonder why only 37 percent of Americans can name their elected representative. They probably all know about the rainstorm that’s coming on Saturday, though, or the latest house fire in Plainville.

Ultimately, the beer-tosser has been maligned due to circumstance more than anything else. Last week at Yankee Stadium, somebody threw a beer can at Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, nearly hitting him on his way out of the bullpen. But the fan wasn’t caught on camera, so they get to move on with their life, without the prolonged public shaming. 

That would’ve been some good information to present alongside this story. The behavior, while contemptible and obnoxious, happens with some regularity at sports venues. Instead, this was presented as the first time it’s ever happened.

Don’t let context get in the way of a good moral screed, or vacuous stand-up in the Gillette Stadium parking lot.