Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Drunk At The Football Game

I was struck by an Indy Star report, detailing a woman's lousy experience at the Colts-Broncos game, where she was injured by a drunken fan.
The 41-year-old Terre Haute resident and Colts season ticket holder arrived at the stadium with her husband, brother and sister-in-law and settled into their terrace-level seats, waiting for the action to begin.

But it wasn’t long before things turned sour. Voils said a rambunctious group of men behind them, all drinking heavily, grew rowdier and rowdier as the game went on.

Suddenly, in the second quarter, Voils was pummeled.

“Two of the guys fell on top of me,” Voils said. The impact sent her tumbling over her seat until she hit her head two rows down.

The last NFL game I went to was a Colts playoff game, against the NY Jets. It was the last time Peyton Manning played here in Indy, before his homecoming this past weekend.
Manning's last game as a Colt. My last game as a ticket-buying fan.

Despite wearing Colts gear, despite being with three other men, the Colts fan behind me "spilled" a beer on me in the first half, and then filled the hood of my hoodie with beer later in the game. The first incident I blew off as an accident. The second? That was just stupid. I suspect my sense of chivalry prevented me from coming to blows with the fool. She seemed like she was only a day or two over 21.
Thumbs up- prior to the game, prior to the soaking of the hoodie.

I'm not a shrinking violet. I'm a much bigger hockey fan than NFL fan, and because my team is the San Jose Sharks, the closest games are in Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and Columbus. I go to Sharks games there, and I wear my Sharks jerseys. I've gone to playoff games, where the animosity for the opposition is tremendous, in Detroit, St. Louis, and Nashville. Only in Nashville did I have a problem, when a fan spilled a beer on me. He quickly realized he went too far, and was apologizing at least.
Playoff game in Detroit four months later. No problems, good fun.

But me rooting for the home team in Indy? Wearing Colts gear? Not provoking anybody? Yeah- problem.

I don't know how it came to be, but NFL games seem to have become a grand excuse for getting wasted and acting like an idiot. Being from Cleveland and having been in the old Dawg Pound, I can say that the stupidity is actually lower in Indianapolis, but there's still plenty of stupidity. And, I expect it.

“It was just the way Lucas Oil Stadium handled the whole situation,” Voils said. “Here’s somebody bleeding all over the place, and these guys were so intoxicated and they didn’t do squat about it.”

Levengood said he was still investigating the incident and had not yet spoken with Voils and her family when The Star contacted him Monday afternoon.

“We’re always trying to make the fan experience as good as possible,” Levengood said, adding that he only heard many of the details from a Star reporter. “What you’ve just told us is concerning.”

Blah, blah, blah. Stupidity is expected. When that's the case, that's what you get- just like anywhere else in life. My take is that security's job is not to protect the fans (protect the players? Oh, hell yeah!) to keep things from becoming riots. Individuals are going to get annoyed at the least, and a few hurt. The commotion has to be gigantic just to get the attention of security.

I concluded that it would be a while before I went back to a Colts game. Trouble is, my exit doesn't hurt the team's bottom line enough to notice. Tickets are in high demand for a good team. And truly, I don't buy a lot of beer at a game. It's overpriced to the sky, and it isn't the good stuff anyway. They probably do better to swap me out for a rowdy fool drunk.

Another solution could be to more heavily moderate the amount of alcohol fans are allowed to drink inside sporting stadiums, said Brian Frederick, a board member for Sports Fans Coalition, a D.C.-based lobbying group.

At Lucas Oil and other stadiums, fans are already cut off from drinking at the end of the third quarter. But Frederick said the financial incentives for serving alcohol make going any further an unlikely proposition.

“I think there’s just much more incentive to keep serving mass quantities of beer ... than there is to cut people off,” Frederick said. “So you end up with situations in the stands all the time.”

Yes, but to a point. Being a drunken moron is the culture of the NFL fan. Who are the NFL's top sponsors, after all? So, say they cut the sales off at halftime. So what? Ever been tailgating? A good number of fans stumble through the turnstiles blasted out of their minds. Every bar within a mile of the stadium counts on pre-game loading. The 4th Quarter may be better behaved, but watch out for the 2nd & 3rd!

I don't really know how you fix the culture, where getting drunk at the game is expected. I do know that I don't enjoy it. I also know I was not surprised to read this article. It is exactly what I've experienced at every NFL game I've ever been to, spanning 25+ years. That, friends, is a track record.