Image via WikipediaA few weeks ago, I entered my name into a raffle for Redskins tickets at my office. My company either has, or was given, season tickets. They gave away a set of four club level seats and a parking pass for each game of the season. I was fortunate enough to win the set of tickets for today's Redskins/Cardinals game, which the Redskins won 22-21.
Sports have always been an important part of our family life. My wife and I had our first date on opening day of the Baltimore Orioles season 20 years ago. Since our son is away at school, and we had two extra tickets, we invited my brother in law and nephew to go with us since our nephew is also a huge sports fan. I don't think that he had ever been to a Redskins game so it was a big deal for him.
To be honest, we have sort of soured on attending professional sporting events. We much prefer the atmosphere of minor league and collegiate events. I think part of it is the fanaticism that is often on display at professional level. A lot of it probably has to do with the amount of alcohol consumed by the fans in the stands. Sure there is alcohol served in minor league parks, but the atmosphere is such that people rarely get out of hand. It could also be that with the much higher cost of a ticket at professional games that the fans feel a little more entitled to fanatical behavior.
Maybe fanatical behavior is the wrong choice of words to use. After all, the word fan is simply a shortened form of the word fanatic. I guess what I probably should say is that at pro games people are more prone to what I consider obnoxious behavior. I am not talking about just simply being loud and screaming at appropriate times during the game. Nor an I talking about folks wearing the team colors in support of their favorite team, though I may have to draw the line at face paint, especially on fat, middle age men.
All too often at the professional games, there seems to be an increased amount of foul or abusive language. Or there is the example of the type of person who was sitting a few rows in front of us. While just about everybody else in the stands would sit and watch the game, cheering loudly or standing during a big play, this guy felt the need to direct the crowd. Before every play he would stand up and wave his arms and turn to his fellow fans exhorting them to get louder.
I don't know, maybe I am just continuing to get more cranky as I get older, but the guy just looked foolish to me. OK, not as foolish at the guys that were wearing the burgundy and gold face paint, or the person wearing a Tigger costume. The other thing that happened today that had not happened before, and I think is an indictment on where we are as a society, is that every fan was patted down upon entering the stadium. The NFL claims it was not in response to an idiot Cowboys fan (I know idiot and Cowboy fan is redundant) sneaking in a stun gun in to the Jets/Cowboys game last week, but you have to wonder.