You want the police to be there in force. But you don't want to need the police to be there, handcuffs out and batons raised high.
You want to believe that sports stadiums and their environs are temporary pockets of sanctuary from the more violent moods of our age.
You want to attend games to be entertained for a few hours, then you want to go home.
You don't want to conduct constant security checks to make sure you and your loved ones have safe passage, and you don't want to step through potential crime scenes to do it.
But Saturday night was another stark reminder that sports is no sure escape from acts of violence, and that sometimes it seems that sports can be a central focus of the rampage.
We don't know what led to the two apparently separate shootings just outside of Candlestick Park in the minutes after the 49ers-Raiders exhibition game or why another man was beaten badly in a restroom during the game.
We know that police say one shooting victim -- critically wounded -- was wearing an anti-49ers T-shirt.
There is not a lot of sense to be made of this right now. Any possible snap conclusion could be right or wrong, pending further details about the motives, victims and perpetrators.
But I can say that many in the crowd were roiling with angry emotions throughout this game and only got angrier as fights littered the stands.
I can say that surely the fervor was amped up by liquor bought
We can all say that there could have been more of a security presence inside and outside the stadium on Saturday; but we don't know if any of the bloodshed was entirely preventable without imposing temporary martial law.
And we know that many parents will agree and will decide against bringing their children into such a questionable environment.
The home television
We can definitely agree that it's worth reviewing whether the mix of 49ers and Raiders fans at this annual exhibition game -- at night, with many long-term ticket-holders of both teams staying at home -- is too combustible to continue.
At the very least, the teams can agree to play the game next year during the day, damn the TV ratings, if they play it at all.
We can wonder whether these incidents throw any kind of barrier in front of the possibility of the Raiders and 49ers sharing a stadium in the future.
But again, let the investigation tell us what really happened.
Violent people do violent things, whether it's on the street in San Francisco, Oakland, Cupertino, Berkeley or San Jose, or it's during a football game.
When I walked out of Candlestick at 9:30 -- about 90 minutes after the shootings -- police vehicles and police officers virtually lined the outer rim of the stadium.
Something bad had clearly happened -- several bad things -- and very obviously, some of it had spilled over to a spot very near my car in the "A" lot.
That, I learned later, was very near where the critically injured man was found, after driving his car to the entrance of the lot.
Of course, I couldn't help but think of Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was beaten into a coma outside Dodger Stadium a few months ago -- a game I also attended.
These are two separate incidents, taken anecdotally from a slate of dozens and dozens of sporting events this year that did not include felony assaults.
But the Stow beating served as a kind of flash point in Dodgers history -- though Frank McCourt's sour ownership was already hurtling toward its end days, that incident was a symbol of the disrepair.
The Saturday shootings are different; for one, the Yorks want out of Candlestick and are planning a super-stadium in Santa Clara.
But the 49ers will have to increase security at Candlestick, no question, especially for night games -- and the next game is Saturday against Houston, at night.
Every team has to examine its security measures, because the worst betrayal a franchise can make is to risk the physical well-being of its paying customers.
Still, even if Candlestick becomes a fortress, Saturday's shootings will linger.
If you go, you will check over your shoulder as you walk through the parking lot. You will keep an eye out for unruly behavior near your seat. You will look for police officers.
And when you get home, you will relax and be thankful, and also wonder if it was all worth it.