NFL Games Not a Family-Friendly Experience
Thomas Barnett took his son to Soldier Field to watch last night’s game between the Bears and his beloved Packers. Not surprisingly, his team lost a close one. He was, however, surprised about the atmosphere: the two spent the night being verbally abused by drunken buffoons who questioned their sexuality and threatened them with physical violence for having the temerity to sport Packers logowear.
What depressed me most about the situation (and about which I apologized repeatedly to Kev–born and largely raised in the East in military-dominated communities), was realizing this was the fabled Midwest I brought my family back to live among: on full, bullying, drunken, homophobic display (hardly unique to my native region, I realize). I kept waiting for the adult voices to emerge that I typically hear in Green Bay when such moments begin (awfully rarely) at Lambeau, but all I found was gleeful hard stares from older fans (again, I remember the one older gentleman in the suite section for his consideration), and that ashamed me most of all as a native Midwesterner (because that was the kind of behavior that, in my little town growing up in the late 60s/early 70s, would get you a firm talking to or a slap upside the head from any number of adult males if they caught you-whether you were their kid or not).
I know Chicago is cool and ascendant with Obama and all, but I swear to God, I will go out of my way for the rest of my life to avoid spending another dime or minute in this town (believe me, I edited this sentence down repeatedly to delete the various expletives).
I’ve only attended a handful of NFL games in person, including three at FedEx Field (Washington Redskins – Landover, Maryland), one at LP Field (Tennessee Titans – Nashville) and one at Texas Stadium (Dallas Cowboys – Irving). The only truly pleasant experience of was in Nashville. It was Vince Young’s debut as a starter and my Cowboys won handily. Everyone behaved quite decently, however, despite their team losing and my rooting for the visitor.
The Texas Stadium experience (at last season’s beatdown against the Patriots) was generally pleasant, except for the drunken idiots in front of us who were variously cursing between themselves and going back and forth to procure additional alcohol, despite having smuggled in various bottles of hard liquor.
Two of the three games I saw at FedEx were ones where I had no rooting interest; the third, last season’s closer, featured a Cowboys team who had already won 13 games and secured home field throughout the playoffs and didn’t show up. For the most part, Redskins fans are decent, actually, even towards people in Cowboys gear. But there are still way too many drunken idiots to walk through between the ridiculously distant parking lots and the stadium.
The League announced a crackdown before this season, saying they would throw out drunkards and those foul language. But it’s mighty tough to police tens of thousands of people in close contact, especially when a significant number of them are intoxicated. The fact that the stadium is making money hand over fist selling beers at $8 a pop doesn’t exactly create a great incentive structure, either.