Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm Not As Think As You Drunk I Am

Anyone who has been to a professional or college sporting event knows intoxication is a major part of the event. Even if you are not intoxicated yourself, you will invariably have a run in with a severely inebriated individual. They can be obnoxious, rude, vulgar, and downright disgusting in many instances. I have been to 29 different sports stadiums across America, and hundreds of sporting events. One thing has been common across the board: drunk fans piss me off.

In Fenway Park during a Yankees vs. Red Sox game, I have had beer thrown at me, pizza thrown in my face, peanut shells stuffed down my back, and if these fans are to be taken at their word, they violated my mother many times. I was twelve at the time. This is not to pick on Boston; similar experiences can be seen everywhere, from New York to Seattle to San Diego and Miami (especially Europe, where the vulgarity is organized into stadium-wide chants).

Often times, this public display of hatred extends beyond words. During this Cowboys-Redskins game, drunk fans came to blows. They literally pummel each other as hard as they can while yelling obscenities at each other. The most interesting part: listen to the Redskins fans cheer them on! They are hard to hear, but if you listen closely you can hear one fan yelling "Kick His Ass!"

How do the fans get so intoxicated before the game? Tailgates. In Washington at a Redskins tailgate, I personally witnessed already drunk fans pour three beers into a road cone and force other Redskin fans to drink the stream of beer. In Buffalo, the fans played a game before the Bills game, where they made anyone who walked by their tailgate chug a beer. Nearly everyone agreed, and soon the entire party was hammered. There was still five hours to game time.

These practices are not uncommon by any means. An HBO show, REAL Sports with Bryant Gumble, did a piece over the summer about this exact topic. I tried to find the footage on youtube but to no avail. In fact, they had a film crew capture the road cone incident mentioned earlier I witnessed with my own two eyes. They interviewed writers who call to a stop of such behavior, and police in charge of keeping drunk fans out of games.

I am not advocating this kind of wide-sweeping change in policy. As a die hard fan of all sports, I recognize alcohol, partying, and inebriation is a part of the experience. To some extent, it is half the entertainment. You never know what you are going to find, or what you're going to hear people yell. Not only that, but leagues cannot have it both ways and sign multi hundred million dollar contracts with beer companies for sponsorships AND tell fans to drink responsibly. If they want to reap the financial benefits of alcohol being paired with sports, they have to deal with the social consequences. The fact of the matter is football games are no longer places to take young children. At the Buffalo game I attended with another family, who has two little girls, one extremely drunk fan even threatened to rape the little girls. I kid you not.

Not ALL drunk fans piss me off, but when you threaten to rape an 8 year old girl or pummel another fan with your clenched fists because you are too drunk to know your first name, then you have gone too far (obviously). It no longer is just your problem, its somebody else’s problem as well. Everyone who has to put up with your obnoxious behavior is being distracted from the game at hand. I do not look forward to the day when I have to tell my son he isn't old enough to come to a sports game with his Dad because he will hear things he is too young to hear. But I don't want my son being the type of fan that tells another to shove an air horn up his ass and blow it real hard. Because one day the fan that thinks he is the baddest on the block will meet one who will show him what its like. 

Above: tailgates are any real fan's tradition before a big game: grill food, get a tv going to watch the other games, chat with family and friends. But sometimes it goes too far.

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