Many mature athletes remain fans of the sport even after professional retirement. However, don’t you find some hardcore sports fans somewhat excessive? If you do, then you might want to watch Catching Hell.
Written and directed by Academy Award-winning documentarist Alex Gibney, Catching Hell does an exposition of how vicious sports fans can be and how sports teams sometimes use them as scapegoats for an obviously bad performance.
From Hardcore Fan to Hated Man
Catching Hell focuses on Steve Bartman, the center of an infamous incident during a playoff game between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins in 2003. A long-time fan of the cubs, Bartman suddenly found himself the enemy of his beloved community when he tried to catch a foul ball, unintentionally interfering with outfielder Moisés Alou’s ability to do the same.
From the day of the incident up until the release of the film (Catching Hell was released in 2011), Bartman has been known to become a total recluse. It was even reported that he received death threats from his fellow Cubs fans. He refused to be seen in public even eight years after the incident and had turned down six figure-payments to make an appearance at talk shows. In fact, despite being the subject of the documentary, Bartman himself wasn’t interviewed by Gibney for the film.
Those who aren’t familiar with the incident and haven’t heard the full story might blame Bartman outright. However, the film points out that the Cubs losing the game and the subsequent World Series title wasn’t entirely Bartman’s fault. After Alou failed to catch that foul ball, the Cubs went on to give up eight runs. Still, fans and even some commentators refused to believe that the Cubs also contributed to their loss.
It’s Happened Before: Bill Buckner’s Story
Catching Hell also shows that Bartman’s story is parallel to those of Bill Buckner’s. Buckner was infamous for letting a ball go through his legs during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Like Bartman, fans and the media have blamed Buckner for the Red Sox’s loss to the Mets for years. It wasn’t until more than two decades later that they have forgiven each other. Buckner was featured in the documentary as one of the talking heads, giving personal insights on how such an incident could greatly affect a person for years.
While it is regrettable that Bartman has refused to be featured in the film to personally share what he has gone through, Catching Hell is still an interesting watch. Whether you’re a hardcore sports fan or not, it will make you look at things from another perspective and realize that nothing is ever one person’s fault.