So much went wrong at the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders Pre-Season game this past weekend. A few people were hospitalized from being beaten and from gun shot wounds; some were beaten until unconsciousness. What's strange is that most of the fights were between 49ers fans, as in, the fans were hurting their own. But this isn't the only assault that's happened in the past few years. A Cleveland Browns fan went after a child in a New York Jets jersey . . . attacked a CHILD. A woman and her teenage daughter had a sign showing love to Tom Brady at a New England Patriots and New York Jets game, Jets fans attacked the woman. A couple of guys who love the Philadelphia Eagles attacked a woman wearing a Tony Romo jersey (in Philly). Just to name a few.
Now, many people believe that what happened at the 49ers homestead (Candlestick Park), was more or less related to gangs. Apparently this type of situation occurred a few years ago in the same manner at Candlestick. There are two gangs that are in the area, so it makes sense. If that's the case, I don't think the NFL has any ability to change what happened. Bad people will do bad things. We can just hope they leave everyone else alone.
However, what about the fights that weren't potentially gang related? Two women were cat fighting in the middle of the game, apparently someone had a derogatory t-shirt on about the opposing team. Obviously it didn't go over well. What causes people to beat on children in opposing jerseys? Yup, alcohol is guaranteed the main cause. And yes, I'm well aware that the 49ers fans are known to be the meanest fans to the visiting team. Every league has their worst, NFL's happens to be San Fran fans, doesn't mean the team itself is evil or that every fan is evil.
So many people are blaming the NFL and saying they don't do enough. However, is it the NFL's fault? No, I don't believe it is, however, the league is going to have to take responsibility to save face. That's what it's all come down to, we can't take responsibility for our peers, so we blame the league. I get it. I want to be safe at games, so the governing board should keep my safety number one. But, is it the league or is it the stadium itself? Maybe both.
The question becomes - how will they change it? Take away all alcohol? No, people come to the games to get wasted. It's their goal. I don't know why it's their goal, since it's more difficult to pay attention and enjoy the game, but it is. It's a huge revenue source for the team (alcohol sponsorships) and for the stadium (many stadiums are owned by a 3rd party, and not the team themselves). Limit amount served to each person? Logistically this could be a nightmare, unless an advanced technological system was in place to keep track of each alcoholic beverage purchased per seat. Doubt this will happen any time soon. Make the league move the games to earlier in the day, so people have less time to party beforehand? Yeah, right. Viewership and ticket sales would go down. People like night games.
One of my suggestions? Make it the stadiums issue, and quit letting people tailgate. Yes, tailgating is fun, but it's all about drinking. I have enjoyed every tailgate I've been a part of, but I'm also not getting plastered every time. I've also seen first hand how people get too rowdy and obnoxious because of alcohol. It's a shame. It's suppose to be a fun time; families should be able to take their kids to the game and not worry about the trash talking and cussing that will occur.
But, I don't believe getting rid of tailgating would cure any problem. I believe it could only help the alcohol consumption decrease. It may be a small step in a very long process. The problem is, there are only a few games each season, compared to all other sports where they play so many more games. NFL fans have a very limited season to express their love of the team. They get so wrapped up in it all, they can't contain themselves. We've let this happen, as football is king in America. Just look at how soccer fans react in other countries. It's the same here, we just don't want to admit it. Would extending the season help? Maybe. That way there are more games, and it lessens the amount that each game counts. If a NBA team loses one game, it's upsetting, but not a huge loss because it's only one out of 20 that month alone. If a NFL team loses one game, it's huge because it's one out of 3 or 4 that month. Each game counts more. Each fan feels this, and gets hungry for a win. Maybe making the teams play every other team in the league is the answer. Yes, more injuries could occur, but maybe it's a better system. More game would give everyone more playing time (you could actually rest your starting quarterback!), and you wouldn't have near as many crazy fans.
Would it work? Maybe. Would no more tailgating work? Maybe. But, I'm just not sure if the NFL is to blame, I just know it has to take the blame.