NFL's New Fan Conduct Test Ignores the Drunk Elephant in the Room

| April 15th, 2012

The following is an excerpt from an article appearing Sunday on NFL.com:

The next time a fan is kicked out of an NFL stadium for being unruly, he or she will have to take a $75 four-hour online class and pass a code-of-conduct test for readmittance.

“We’re not trying to squash anyone’s passion. We’re just trying to say don’t be violent,” Dr. Ari Novick, a licensed psychotherapist who developed the idea, told the New York Post.

Stadium requirements will vary across the league, but most of the time, a booted fan will be required to pass the conduct test, Novick said.

The class is available at FanConductClass.com, and the taker must correctly answer at least 70 percent of the questions to pass.

There are a great many reactions possible to such a stance by the league but here is the unrelenting truth of the situation. The policy – its conception, implementation and enforcement – belongs right beside Roger Goodell’s European fascination and the 18-game schedule on his slag heap of misguided ideas. It is more grandstanding from the King of Discipline’s Park Avenue offices and it does not deserve the time I am taking to pontificate on its level of bullshittery.

First of all, how will the league actually enforce these penalties on non-season ticket holders? Hell how would they enforce the penalty ON season ticket holders? Are they going to restrict a person’s ability to sell their seat? Are they going to have security officials across the country check identification now? Do they want the lines that will accrue as a result? Will they prohibit those on the secondary market from selling tickets to credit card holders on their do not admit list? This policy and rule is entirely unenforceable and it is insulting to the thousands upon thousands of fans who fill these stadiums.

But here’s the best part of the article:

Novick, the creator of the concept, takes $55 from the test fee, and the rest of the money is donated to Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers.

So the fee will be donated to an organization that is prohibitively against drinking. (Full disclose: I drink. Sometimes I drink to excess. I drink at every single sporting event I attend. I enjoy it and I never want it to go anywhere.) But if the NFL were serious about curbing inappropriate behavior at their football games they would:

  • NOT open their stadium parking lots four and five hours before games.
  • NOT provide legalized spaces for outdoor drinking that do not exist in any of the areas surrounding the stadiums. Exactly why is it I can drink an open beer in the MetLife parking lot on game day but would receive a citation for doing that same thing in the Outback Steakhouse lot down the road?
  • SEVER their long-standing ties with the beer (and other booze) companies that fill the airwaves and stadium real estate almost overwhelmingly.
  • STOP serving alcohol. Just don’t serve it. If you were seriously concerned about fan behavior this would be your only course of action. But ask Jerry Jones or Bob Kraft how they feel about losing beer revenue and I think they’ll tell you they’d rather just chuck 25 people out of the building every Sunday.

Of course the NFL could give a damn about fan behavior at games. They want people in the seats and owners want people guzzling down Coors Light and MGD at the fastest possible rate. They want fans drunk in the parking lot because a drunk fan will be far quicker to pay $10 for more booze than a sober fan. A drunk fan is far more likely to drop $100 on that shiny new jersey. A drunk fan is going to get hungry and there are plenty of overly priced sandwiches at the ready. Don’t insult us with your bullshit test. And don’t insult us by couching the implementation of this test as for OUR benefit.

Is behavior in these stadiums a problem? Yes I think it is. I think these stadiums have become a sort of playground for the enraged, booze-fueled inanity of a certain segment of the population. But we’ve all agreed to look the other way on this stuff, haven’t we? Isn’t that a silent pact the league and its fans have forged?

I’ll deal with the loudmouth morons because, let’s face it, I’m thirsty. The NFL deals with the loudmouth morons and sacrifices a family-oriented experience because, let’s face it, kids don’t buy beer.