August 4, 2010
In response to an unfortunate incident the Arena Football League has issued suspensions to Orlando’s Bobby Sippio and Julius Wilson for their involvement in an altercation with fans in Saturday night’s game. Wilson and Predators wide receiver Bobby Sippio were ejected late in the second quarter of their 75-60 victory Saturday night after entering the St. Pete Times Forum stands and getting into an alleged altercation with several fans. It was reported that Sippio had attempted to give a ball to Julius Wilsons father who was subsequently attacked and knocked to the ground by other spectators to get the football. This prompted Sippio and Wilson to come to his fathers defense and prompted the actions that ensued. It has been reported that Wilson struck a fan during the altercation by several media outlets. The AFL has suspended Wilson for 6 games and a monetary fine, and Sippio was suspended one game and fined. Sippio has appealed his suspension to the league and is expected to play in the Predators playoff game this Friday night. AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz issued the following statement in response to the incident; “The AFL apologizes to their fans for the regretful and unacceptable actions of two of its players during a game this past Saturday. It is not acceptable for our players to enter the stands at anytime during a game, no matter the circumstances.”
The intimacy of the indoor/arena game provides fans with a tremendous experience each week and is part of what makes the game unique. There is a line that simply can not be crossed between fan and player and unfortunately I have witnessed to a lesser extent situations similar to this in the past. It is never a positive situation when a player enters the stands or when a fan attacks a player on the field or throws objects at players on the field or bench area. Both parties must accept responsibility and respect the boundaries that exist between player and fan. Most leagues now including the AFL have adopted rules prohibiting players from leaving the bench area for any reason.
Orlando Predators Altercation with Fans