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Forget the beer can, why weren’t the Jays fans yelling racial slurs kicked out?


Baseball fans are calling for the Blue Jays to do more after some spectators were heard shouting racial slurs at Tuesday’s wild-card game in Toronto against the Baltimore Orioles.

CBC sports reporter Scott Regehr was among those who heard comments, which were directed at Orioles players and coaching staff.

Regehr said he heard spectators taunting first-base coach Wayne Kirby, who is African-American, yelling that he should “go get some more fried chicken.”

“Ushers witnessed this. Security witnessed this. They didn’t do anything, and let them stay in their seats,” said Regehr. 

Other fans took to Twitter to describe what they heard.

Since Tuesday’s game, the Blue Jays released a statement condemning a spectator who threw a beer can onto the field.

So far, the team has yet to speak publicly about the racial slurs, leading fans online to ask that more be done to curb the comments.

“They should have shut it down and thrown them out,” said Jason Merai, a long-time Jays fan and the former executive director of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.

“Why should they wait until someone throws a beer onto the field to take action?”

The Blue Jays code of conduct for fans forbids abusive language, and warns that failure to comply could result in expulsion from the stadium.

When asked by CBC News about a specific policy on racial slurs, a Blue Jays spokesperson responded with a statement encouraging fans to report inappropriate behaviour to staff.

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Outfielder Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles is one of the players alleged to have been the target of racist fans. (Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)

Merai thinks the code of conduct should be more precise when it comes to things like race.

“I think it should be as specific as possible,” he said.

York University Prof. Carl James, who has studied both race and sport culture, said attention also needs to be paid to the ways our society encourages racist behaviour, inside and outside of the stadium.

“I’m suggesting a larger societal response. The policies are important. But we need to also do a change in our psyche,” he said. “We socialize people to use race as a weapon.” 

The CBC also reached out to Major League Baseball for comment, and was told the league has “zero tolerance” for racial comments.

MLB encourage fans to alert stadium employees if they witness any unacceptable behaviour.

CBC | Toronto News

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