Fans Who Took Things Too Far And Got Banned From Stadiums

Ah ... sports. There's nothing like good old physical competition to put a body in a burning rage, especially when it comes to professional sports and spectating. Whether angry from a bad call or worked up from all the hours of tailgating that take place before most professional sporting events, keeping calm during a game can be a monumental challenge for some. So much in fact, that over the last several years, sports arenas have begun taking matters into their own hands. Like the jail cells that the city of Philadelphia installed at Veterans Stadium back in 1997 to try and maintain some peace within the stands (via Sports King).

However, stadiums are taking a different approach when dealing with the truly unruly: lifetime bans. More and more, arenas are handing out limited or even lifetime bans to fans who just can't seem to contain themselves. Let's look at a few.

Banned for 5 years

When it comes to lifetime punishments, nothing can be fresher in the minds of the public then that of the Washington Nationals handing out five-year bans to two unnamed fans (via Bleacher Nation). Back in August 2022, the Chicago Cubs were hosting the Nationals over a three-day series. In a bit of a nail-biter between the two clubs, things got a bit heated as Chicago tied up the game at the top of the 10th. While returning to the dugout after being a victim of a sacrifice fly (via Bleacher Report), Cubs catcher Willson Contreras got into a bit of a conversation with a couple of fans in the stands. 

What was being said between all the gentlemen isn't widely known. However, according to the Chicago Tribune, the fans in question may have been talking about Contreras' family. During the post-game conference, Contreras spoke up about the engagement. "If somebody tried to mess up my family, they're going to [have to go through] me first," he said, per the Chicago Tribune. "Whatever they said, it wasn't healthy. It was not right." Whatever was stated, it was vicious enough for the Washington Nationals to issue immediate five-year bans for the two fans involved in the conversation.

Hit from behind

Then there's the unfortunate incident of a fan hurling a foul ball back at Boston Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo in October 2021 (via ABC News). In a low-scoring outing between old-school rivals, the New York Yankees hosted the Boston Red Sox in a game full of rain delays (via ESPN). According to the Boston Globe, with the game tied at 1-1, left fielder Alex Verdugo tossed a wayward ball — intended for a young Red Sox fan — into the stands. Unfortunately for all involved, an overzealous Yankees fan intercepted the toss instead. "I was going back to try to get ready for the pitch to be delivered and I hear, 'Throw it back,'" Verdugo said (via Boston Globe). "I'm in my stance getting ready and I take a peek, and as I look back, I see the ball heading down and then it hits me in my back."

Understandably upset by being pegged in the back, Verdugo went after the fan verbally. The exchange got so hot between the two that several umpires and Red Sox players had to manually remove Verdugo from the field, dragging him behind a scoreboard located in left field. The antagonistic Yankee fan meanwhile was ejected from the game (via the New York Post) and later issued a lifetime ban not just in Yankee stadium but in all MLB stadiums (via ABC News).

Bans across all major sports

Earning a lifetime ban isn't just a Major League Baseball phenomenon, either. Bans occur across all major sports, including the NBA. Back in January 2022, the Philadelphia Sixers laid an indefinite suspension from all games and events held at the Wells Fargo Center — located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — on a particularly unruly spectator (via NBC Sports). In what would become a 105-87 blowout in favor of the Sixers (via ESPN), things got tense between LA Lakers (via CBS Sports) power forward Carmelo Anthony and a few spectators. The heated exchange led to the fans being ejected from the game, with one, in particular, being banned for life, not just from NBA games but all events held at the Wells Fargo Center.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the banning stems from one of the ejected Sixers fans calling Anthony offensive racial slurs. Using the word "boy" in a derogatory manner directed at Anthony (via NBC Sports), said fan received an indefinite suspension from the management of the Wells Fargo Center. Meanwhile, Anthony said his peace about the matter in a press conference after the game (via NBC Sports): "I'm cool with fans heckling, fans talking trash, cheering for their team, booing the other team — I'm all for that. But when you cross certain lines as a man, that's what you're going to see. ... I'm sure the people that are in charge will take care of it accordingly, deal with it accordingly. My job is done when it comes to that."

Language crossing the line

Not all suspensions result in lifetime bans, however. Back in November 2021, the Indianapolis Pacers were hosting LeBron James and the LA Lakers (via Fox News). During the game, James reported to officials that fans were getting unruly, stating (per NBC Sports): "When obscene gestures and language come into it, can't be tolerated." James pointed out the two fans seated courtside that were using foul language to the stadium security. Without much ado, security removed the pair for "violating the NBA Fan Code of Conduct" during the game's overtime (via Fox News).

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, though, the pair of fans were ejected from the game, but they were not issued any further form of ban or punishment.  Of course, NBA fans didn't take kindly to James' reaction to the situation. According to Fox News, the whole spectacle caused the King to get yet another nickname: "LeSnitch." The moniker was coined by ESPN commentator Skip Bayless, who tweeted out about the incident: "And yes, we definitely will talk about the LeSnitch incident that happened at tonight's game in Indianapolis." Clearly, fans are holding James more accountable for the ejection than the NBA.

A case of being thin-skinned

Perhaps the most humorous of the lifetime bans is that of James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks. Back in March 2019, after a devastating 102-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings, Dolan was being heckled by a number of fans, but one comment, in particular, must've struck a little too close to home for the owner of the beleaguered franchise. In what was probably the most impulsive of actions, Dolan threatened a fan who told him to "sell the team" (via The Score). For his part, Dolan quickly had stadium security dispatched to the rabble-rousers, where they were held, questioned, and finally asked to leave the facilities (via TMZ)

Dolan maintains that the whole incident was a concocted bit by an outraged fan, with The Score reporting the owner accusing said fan of ambushing him in an attempt to make some sort of scandalous video. While proof of that fact has yet to surface, the lifetime ban has been implemented. According to New York Post sports writer Andrew Marchand, Dolan has indeed banned the heckling fan from Madison Square Garden for life. This time around, it looks as if a lifetime ban was earned from a bruised ego rather than the usual offensive or racist chatterings.