The weather is finally coming around, and spring is in the air. For some people, this means that their favorite outdoor activities can finally begin. One of my favorite outdoor activities is taking in a baseball game at Target Field. I also like to travel and see games in different stadiums. I have been to AT&T Park in San Francisco, Miller Park in Milwaukee, Coors Field in Denver, and later this summer I will see the Twins take on the Angels at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. There are many differences in each of these ballparks, but the one similarity happens to be a highly debated topic that is currently going through the first year growing pains. Smokeless tobacco by players in stadiums. This issue has actually been a tradition in the game. Who hasn’t watched a game and seen their favorite players with a big dip in their mouth?
San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles have passed laws against smokeless tobacco being allowed in their major league stadiums that are already intact. Chicago and New York recently joined this list. The entire state of California passed a similar bill that will go into effect starting in 2017. This idea has been proposed for Target Field, but has not yet passed. Campaigns such as “Knock Tobacco Out of The Park” have long been proposing to remove this dangerous habit from the game. The biggest fear is that young kids are seeing this habit, which is a horrible and dangerous example. (Visit the campaigns website more information. http://tobaccofreebaseball.org/content/ )
The Houston Astro’s opened their season against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Little did they know that they would be the first players to be taking part in this new era of tobacco-free stadiums. According to ESPN, http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/15149390/new-york-first-city-ban-smokeless-tobacco-ballpark , an estimated 30% of major league ball players use chewing tobacco. By this time next year, possibly ten ballparks will be tobacco free. The hope is to cut the usage down.
I grew up watching baseball. I played baseball through high school and continue to watch the game nicknamed “America’s Pastime”. One of my favorite players, Tony Gwynn, recently lost his battle with cancer. He blamed cancer on the chewing habit that consumed his career. I don’t necessarily agree with players needing to be better role models. This responsibility was lost in the late 90’s when the steroid era took over the game. We must teach our children the right and wrong and not leave the responsibility up to professional athletes. For that reason alone, the campaign discussed earlier does not impact my opinion on smokeless tobacco use by players. It’s stories like the loss of Tony Gwynn that impact my opinion. The Hall of Famer was taken from this world too soon. If we can prevent this from happening again by eliminating this habit from the game, I support that.