Americans know how to look after fans

It takes all sorts to make a fan base and that's the joy of going to love sport.

While in Las Vegas, I braved the 40 degree Celsius heat and watched my first live baseball game between the Las Vegas 51s and Reno Aces on Tuesday (NZ time).

The two teams play Triple A baseball which is the league below Major League Baseball (MLB).

The 51s are the main feeder club for the New York Mets.

Most of the players had sporadic periods in the majors or are considered top prospects.

The big thing I took out of the three hours at the 9000-seat Cashman Field, was the crowd.

Not just the type of people that made up the crowd but what the 51s organisation did to get them there and then entertain them.

It was $1 hot dog, popcorn, pretzel and Cracker Jack (a caramel popcorn with nuts) at the stadium which was great value.

A very family-friendly atmosphere with competitions on the field for kids to win prizes every half inning, spot prizes for sections of the crowd if the home team got a hit or kept the Aces scoreless in an innings.

Tickets were from $9 to $35.

One guy just along from us had his wife and a myriad of kids with him. In fact, the number of kids seems to increase after each innings.

He only made it through the top of the sixth innings, or two thirds of the game, and if you factored in the time he was distracted by the kids he likely only saw 40 pitches.

Though, each one he saw, he offered loud advice to either the batter or pitcher.

Largely positive stuff encouraging the 51s players or gently ribbing the umpire for a called ball or strike he thought could have gone the other way.

We were both behind home plate so at least he was well positioned.

Some other fans began to ride the Aces batters late in the game but their loud opinions weren't offensive or derogatory.

It reminded me of my childhood at Lancaster Park watching Canterbury games where I'd sit with the season ticket holders and they'd boo or ride their own team or the opposition for average play.

The fans at Cashman Field were a nice throwback.

In a day and age where it's frowned upon to boo Wallaby No 10 Quade Cooper, it was refreshing.

It's only booing, it's not that big of a deal.

If you can't get emotionally involved in a game, then why go to it? Just stay at home and yell at your television.

It's not about condoning abuse, it's more about free speech.

A bit of banter or a boo is often a sign of respect. The great players get booed out of fear for their impact on the game.

Quade Cooper is not one of those players mind you, he's average at best, but booing him has been blown out of proportion.

The Cashman Field audience proved you can still create an atmosphere, support your team and get your opinion across without crossing the line.

The Timaru Herald