David Beckham had another run-in with fans—with the notoriously nasty Kansas City soccer scene—but the where and why is not really important. What is important, is that fans need to do a better job managing their smack talk.
The sports heckler is really just a close ancestor to another unfortunate phenomenon of modern life—the Internet Tough Guy. Go to any sporting event, from NFL playoff games to little league softball, and you will regularly hear unbelievably vile epithets hurled at anyone standing between the lines. (And not just in Philadelphia!) You know, the kind of things you would never say in front of your mother. But if asked to back up their raging threats, most folks immediately back down like the cowards they are.
Like this guy:
Video blogger Ramsey Mohsen was at the Kansas City game and right on top of the action when Beckham had his little showdown with the fans. (You should really watch the whole video, but I grabbed this snippet just to make my point.) One of them, wearing an England kit, insulted the player's wife so Beckham told him he had no business wearing that jersey. (And maybe called him a scumbag later.) The other guy dared Beckham to call him down to the field if he thinks he's so strong. So Beckham did call him down ... and the guy, of course, did not answer the challenge. That didn't stop him from trying to brag about it on video anyway. Well played, sir.
The safety of the bleachers allows fans to shout terrible things that they would never, ever say to another person's face. (Just like I'm doing now, maybe!) The L.A. Galaxy fan who leapt on the field actually tried to back his talk up, which is why it's sort of fitting that his lifetime ban from the arena was lifted. Congrats on not being a coward! On the other hand, Beckham would have never pulled that crap in Europe, because he would probably be stabbed in the heart with a burning road flare. They don't mess around on the continent.
I'm not saying taunts shouldn't be allowed at games, or that you should go charging on to the field at the first sign of a challenge. I'm just asking fans to take a little more pride in their trash talk. Be clever. Be amusing. For real amusing, not just internet comment amusing. Making a player laugh would be way more distracting than making them angry. There's no need to be cruel/offensive/racist. Most of all, don't make threats. Because you know you can't back them up. If you said those things to David Beckham on the street, he and/or his security guard would pummel you into the concrete. But it doesn't make you a hero to say it to him from behind the safety of the railing.