The 15 Craziest Fan Brawls at Sporting Events

Fights erupting in the stands are a major black eye on sports—but they happen all the time. Here's a roundup of the most memorable stadium brawls and fights.

Fans Ejected Cleveland Browns 2020
USA Today Sports

Nov 15, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns fans confront Cleveland police officers during an argument in the fourth quarter of the game against the Houston Texans at FirstEnergy Stadium. The fans were ejected from the stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Fans Ejected Cleveland Browns 2020

Sports fandom is great for many reasons. It facilitates social connections, both those relationships that last a long time (like friendships fueled by shared fandom) and the more ephemeral connections with strangers sporting your team’s laundry. It provides an escape from the stresses of everyday life. It can even inspire you to exercise. We’ve seen time and time again how fandom can uplift society.

But it’s a double-edged sword. Fandom also has downsides. Exhibit A: the fight between fans at Saturday’s Steelers-Lions preseason game at Heinz Field.

Aggression often boils over in the stands, whether we’re talking about games in the United States or aborad. In European football, hooliganism that results in murder has long been an issue. Group rivalry has also proven fatal stateside, as we saw in July when a fight between a Giants fan and Eagles fan in Philadelphia turned deadly.

Fortunately, brawls in the crowd at sporting events usually don’t have such negative repercussions. Nonetheless, they are a major black eye of the sports industry—something we all should agree makes for a less pleasurable consumption experience. Let’s recount the 15 craziest fan brawls at sporting events in recent years.

15. Steelers and Bengals Fans Throw Down

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Of late, the Steelers and Bengals have had some of the most intense battles in all of sports, with figures like Vontaze Burfict fueling the AFC North rivalry. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to see fans of these teams pop up on this list.

During one October 2017 matchup, a fan sporting an Antonio Brown jersey was at the center of this ugly fight, which included him throwing haymakers from his knees.

14. Stick Toss Starts Brawl

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Scott Niedermayer thought he was doing something nice when he tossed his stick to the crowd after a 2009 game. While he skated out to celebrate his first-star recognition, he passed his stick over the boards, intending to give it to a young fan. 

Instead, it was intercepted by a man nearby. This sparked a brutal fight between fans in the section. “It was for the little girl,” Niedermayer clarified in a postgame interview.

13. Raptor-on-Raptor Violence

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Fan fights aren’t just limited to those that occur between rivals. In fact, sometimes they occur between fans of the same team. We saw that play out in 2011, when a gaggle of Raptors fans mixed it up during a game between Toronto and the Lakers. 

After insults were exchanged and fingers were pointed, the fans climbed over seats to exchange punches before security finally arrived on the scene.

12. It Even Happens at Tennis Matches

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Yes, you read that correctly. During the 2010 US Open, in a match between Novak Djokovic and Philipp Petzschner, a 20-something male fan got into a shouting match with two older folks – a man and woman. Apparently, they were upset that he was talking during points, which he hotly disputed.

The fans at this usually peaceful event were none too happy to have such an ugly moment spoil their experience.

11. Bay Area Brawl

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Tensions were always high when the Bay-area rivals San Francisco and Oakland squared off – fortunately, they’re no longer playing in the same region, so tensions have somewhat cooled. Nonetheless, there are numerous fights between 49ers fans and Raiders fans on this list.

Making the first appearance: this 2018 fight, which was fueled by one particularly emotional Raiders fan sporting a Marshawn Lynch jersey. He just seemed intent on fighting someone; it was only a matter of which 49ers fan would be on the other end. As it turned out, he found multiple opponents ready to duke it out.

10. Orioles and Yankees Fans Clash

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Though the NFL seems to produce the most fan fights in the U.S., these ugly events occur in practically every sports setting. As you’ll find throughout this list, we often see fights at baseball games, which are supposed to provide family-friendly entertainment.

Case in point: this 2016 skirmish between a Baltimore Orioles fan and New York Yankees fan, which included a shirt being pulled over one man’s head—classic hockey fight move.

9. FIFA Final Showdown

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No one loves their team quite like international soccer fans. And no international soccer event escalates to the level of emotion of the FIFA World Cup.

The 2014 Final featured Germany and Argentina, with Germany winning 1-0. After Germany scored the lone goal, these antics in the stands commenced.

8. Another Bay Area Brawl

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Need we say it again? When Oakland and San Francisco are in the mix, you know fans are going to get out of control. It’s practically a foregone conclusion.

This time, the context was an MLB matchup between the Giants and A’s in 2006. This fight stretched way too long and included one Giants fan on the receiving end of a disturbing beatdown.

7. Windy City Rivalry

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Given their geographical proximity, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Chicago Cubs and White Sox fans don’t like each other. In the Windy City, you have to choose a side. And when these rivals match up, it always seems to take fans up a notch.

In 2019, multiple fights broke out in one section during a Cubs-Sox game, with numerous female Cubs fans involved in the melee. It was not Chicago’s finest moment.

6. "Suns in Four!"

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The Phoenix Suns swept the Denver Nuggets in the second round of this year’s NBA postseason. During Game 3, two Nuggets fans and one Suns fan mixed it up. A Denver fan threw the first punch, but he ended up regretting it.

After repeatedly clobbering the other man in the face, the Suns fan, sporting a Steve Nash jersey, screamed, “Suns in four!” The two Denver fans then scurried out of the section while the Suns fan was congratulated by his fellow Phoenix supporters. Take note, folks: even if you support the same team, you should never applaud this type of behavior.

5. 49ers Fans Trample Vikings Fan

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In Week 1 of the 2015 season, multiple 49ers fans teamed up to rough up one Vikings fan. It was a vicious beating, as the fans repeatedly punched and kicked the lone Minnesota supporter in the mix.

The man who posted the video on Facebook following the Levi’s Stadium fight wrote: “ZERO cops were on the scene. ZERO. Santa Clara Police Department were nowhere to be found. Hopefully they can show up and arrest the parties in this video.”

4. A Third Bay Area Brawl

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Typically, security shows up on the scene of a fan fight before too many punches can be thrown. That was not the case during a 2011 preseason matchup between San Francisco and Oakland. Tensions were incredibly high during the game, with numerous fights breaking out across the stadium. It was like one long boxing match in the stands.

This fight was the worst captured on camera. After the ugly game, writer Michael Dixon broke down the many factors that fueled the litany of violence.

3. Careful in Enemy Territory

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It rarely makes sense to wear your team’s jersey into a rival setting. But if you do, be careful. And it really doesn’t make sense to wear your team’s apparel and be boisterous when your team isn’t even competing.

Nonetheless, one Boston fan boldly supported her team at a Yankees-Tigers game in 2012. She then tried to take on practically a whole section in the 300 level, pointing fingers and challenging fans before fists started flying, beer was poured, and she took a brutal tumble. She looked woozy as she walked off. That had to hurt.

2. 1 Chiefs Fan + 3 Ravens Fans = 1 Huge Mess

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As we’ve seen repeatedly, fan fights are not limited to tense games like key regular-season showdowns or postseason battles. In fact, fights among NFL fans often happen during or after preseason games.

During a 2011 preseason game between Kansas City and Baltimore, one Chiefs fan was feeling particularly froggy. He confronted three Ravens fans, throwing fisticuffs while immersed in a sea of purple. Though he put one Baltimore fan to sleep, it did not end well for the Chiefs fan. Unless you’re a professional MMA fighter or trying to save someone’s life, you probably should never even think of entering a one-on-three situation.

1. Cowboys Fan Attacked After Washington Showdown

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Back in the days when the Washington Football Team went by a different moniker, a violent fight erupted after a 2015 Monday night showdown between Washington and its NFC East rival Dallas. Emotions were running high after the Cowboys’ win, which was a surprise upset that hurt Washington’s playoff aspirations, and tensions spilled over in the concourse.

The confrontation inside FedEx Field was captured on video and posted on Facebook. After the Cowboys fan, who sported a Jason Witten jersey, was stabbed, two individuals were arrested and a knife was recovered. NFL fans. Can we all pledge to not bludgeon each other over football?

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