Steve Bartman and privacy.

I would like to talk about Steve Bartman, the infamous Chicago Cubs fan. For those living in caves, he was the one who may or may not have messed up a pop fly catch that may or may not have cost the Cubs going to the World Series.

Personally, I think the poor man was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If I was there, I may have done the same thing, having a couple of 10 dollar beers in me, with my radio on and the excitement of being in the crowd.

That being said, I am a great believer in personal privacy. I wonder who was the first to say this guy’s name to the media? I would not have given my name obviously. I think it took a lot of guts to go later and apologize to the Cubs team and fans, I would not have done this. I would not have said anything, to protect my personal privacy.

THE QUESTION BEING IS, if I was him, I would go to great lengths that no one knew my name. This would be difficult because a co-worker or family member would rat my name out to the press. First, I would sue that “rat” for violating my privacy. Then I would sue the papers and sports outlets that mention my name, thus depriving me of, yet again privacy. Bartman committed no crime, nor he is a public figure.

Where can privacy lines be drawn so this does not happen again?

Privacy? He was broadcast to millions! I can’t see how you could expect to have privacy at a public venue. It flies in the face of reason. If he wanted privacy he should have stayed home and watched the game on TV to see someone else make his error…er… mistake.

Privacy by its very implication means “out-of-the-public-eye”. Mr. Bartman was definately NOT out of the public eye. While Mr. Bartman did not committ a crime he became an instant public figure through his unwitting actions. He chose to try and catch that ball without thought or care as to who was watching. By his own actions he became a public figure for his brief 15 minutes of fame.

The fact that some people recognized him and “ratted him out” does not make them liable for any damages because he committed his deed in a public venue on national TV. Just because you may be part of a large crowd does not give you annonymnity and privacy. You are being seen in public and IIRC public is the opposite of private correct?

The papers and sports outlets cover the news and Mr. Bartman for that instant became THE news whether he liked it or not. Mr. Bartman was not deprived of any privacy. He gave it up willingly through his own actions.

He did something, in public, that possibly changed the outcome of an event millions of people were interested in. By doing so, he also got himself shown repeatedly on (i’m assuming) every major TV channel in the United States.

What does it take to become a public figure?

Bartman broke no laws, neither civil, criminal, nor baseball. The folks blaming him for the Cubs’ pathetic performance (how do you blow a two-run lead twice?) are grasping at straws.

I think the OP raises valid issues.

The first thing I thought when I heard his home was staked out by the media was whether he had a legitimate invasion of privacy claim against the media.

Very soon thereafter, the Trib had an editorial article (Don Wycliff?) stating the Trib policy is that any private citizen loses his right/expectation of privacy when he becomes involved in a new event - wether voluntarily or not. Another example he gave was publishing the address of a gang murder victim, which the victim’s family objected to due to the possibility of retribution.

Just because this is the media’s “policy” does not, IMO, make it right. I do not believe the public’s right (read DESIRE) to know should be the ultimate arbiter. I believe the potential harms to the object of attention are sufficiently significant that they should often outweigh the public’s curiosity.

Of course, I’ve personally never been a big fan of seeing microphones shoved in the face of grieving people who just underwent trauma, seeing images of bloody or charred accident/violence victims, and the like. Guess I’m an oddball.