Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Beer-Drinking" Kid at Phillies Game: What was in the Bottle?

Radar Online did what it thought was its civic duty by narcing on the parents, or whoever was responsible for the "beer-drinking kid" at the Phillies baseball game -- and all the other adults sitting in the area, to a Philadelphia "child protective services agency."
A child protective services agency wants to launch a probe into the child filmed drinking a beer at a recent Philadelphia Phillies baseball game, has learned.
Yeah, they "learned" that because they narced on the parents themselves:
“If we knew the child’s name then this is something we would definitely investigate although we would have to obtain more information before proceeding,” a spokesman for an officer in the Commissioner’s Action Response Office, which is part of the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia told Since the spokesman had yet to see the video, sent the department a link to the footage.
This raises the question: What is the role of journalists? Is it merely to report the news, or should they take footage of something that might be a crime to governmental employees and alert them to it?

In case you haven't heard of the story, apparently during something called a "baseball game," (where grown men throw a little ball around, hit it with a stick, and run around "bases," while other grown men sit around, drink alcohol, and watch) a little boy of indeterminate age was filmed tipping up to his lips a bottle of indeterminate type filled with an indeterminate substance or completely empty. The footage can be found at Radar Online here (I couldn't embed it). From that article:
Philadelphia is known as a raucous sports town where anything can happen and on Sunday, a young fan of the town's baseball team lived up to that reputation. A child was filmed by TV crews taking a swig of beer in the stands during the Phillies’ 6-5 loss to the San Diego Padres.
Philadelphia is known as a "raucous sports town where anything can happen," so much so that I actually know something of its reputation (this is the city where that guy threw up on the kid and his father awhile back, remember?), but does this really qualify as an "anything can happen" moment?

First of all, the child was filmed putting a bottle to his lips. It's not clear if he actually drank anything. It's also not clear if there's anything in the bottle, and if there is anything in the bottle, what that is.

Second of all, "a swig"? Really? They call that a "swig"? If anything, it was a sip. I don't think kids can even take "swigs."
The small blond boy, who didn't look older than a toddler, took a hearty sip out of a brown bottle as the adults in the stands seemed oblivious to what was happening, keeping their eyes on the game.
Oh, one paragraph later it's a "hearty sip." It went from a "swig" to a "sip" just like that. And note that we still cannot tell from the video whether the kid actually drank anything from the bottle.

Third, we can't actually see the adults. We don't know whether they were "oblivious" or not. We don't know what the heck was going on.

Fourth, even if the kid did take a sip of beer, for crying out loud it's only a sip of beer. When did you take your first sip of beer? When did you ask your father, "can I have a sip of that?" and he sort of looked over his shoulder furtively and said, "yeah, just a little one." Like the little one that the kid took.

And, not being a sports fan I'm not certain about this, but I was under the impression that the fans in the "stands" were supposed to drink?

If indeed he took any sips at all. We don't know.
Other crazy occurrences in the City of Brotherly Love include a stretcher-bound Michael Irvin getting booed by Philadelphia Eagles fans in 1999 and a Santa Claus impersonator getting pelted with snowballs at an Eagles game in 1968.
Really, Radar online? Those are the examples you come up with? I'm not even a sports fan, and I came up with one that more relevant: Something that actually happened at a Phillies game, and involved alcohol and a child. You come up with a couple of examples about people at Eagles games -- and you have to go all the way back to 1968 for one of them?

Grow up, Radar online.

Anyway, here are some newsactors discussing the scandal. One of them offers a halfhearted argument very much along my lines, but of course the judgmental anchors are ready to believe the worst (which, as I've already stated, isn't all that bad):

So that's what the newsactors see as their role. To report on something about which they have no real facts, and then make snarky judgments about it. Maybe that's the role of journalists.

Maybe they should try to find out what, if anything, was in that bottle?

Or, maybe they should go out and try to find some real news, because "kid tips some bottle to his lips and maybe takes a drink of something and maybe doesn't at a stupid 'sporting event' that doesn't mean anything anyway" isn't exactly news.

UPDATE: The Phillies themselves are suggesting the kid was drinking from an empty bottle:
On Tuesday, Phillies spokeswoman Bonnie Clark said the team hasn't identified the tot or the adults next to him. Clark said it appears to be "a very brief event, probably involving an empty bottle."
Also, Philadelphia police and child welfare services won't be investigating:
No investigation will be made by the Philadelphia police or the city's child-welfare agency.

"If there was a report of neglect, we would investigate it. We have not received a report," said Alicia Taylor, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Human Services.
They haven't received a report? Doesn't getting narced on by Radar Online count?

1 comment:

shampoo said...

I didn't watch the video, so I didn't see if it ever showed for sure what type of bottle. if it didn't, there are root beer bottles that look very much like real beer bottles. there's also "near beer" which is sold exactly like beer even though it contains almost no alcohol. so, if they don't even know what type of bottle much less if it even contained liquid... this really isn't a thing. and if it was a bottle which originally contained say, root beer, no adult present would care if the kid sipped down the whole thing which sort of makes me think it's something like that. or, I guess, it could be his dad's empty beer bottle.