Laying Down The Law At Games

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: August 15, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Though poor fan conduct is really an individual team/stadium issue in my opinion, the NFL will now provide guidelines and a helping hand at games this year.

The NFL and teams are trying to ensure that every fan enjoys games responsibly (i.e. Don’t get sloppy drunk, Don’t act “too” obnoxious, or Get violent towards others at games). I am sure there will not be a “jail” in every NFL stadium as was the case in Philadelphia’s old Veteran’s Stadium, but look for a more family friendly environment.

The NFL fan code of conduct is intended to address behavior that detracts from the gameday experience. Any fan in violation of these provisions will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.

Each team will communicate its code of conduct during the preseason to season-ticket holders and fans through mailings, online, and in-stadium signage, and other messages.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said of fan conduct, “First of all, it’s very possible, and likely, that people can come to a game and enjoy alcoholic beverages or beer and do it very responsibly.”

“What we don’t want is there to be abusive behavior. That includes foul language; that includes disrupting other people who are there to enjoy the game. We’re just saying, come and enjoy yourself, but don’t ruin it for others”.

BTW: Watch out for Commissioner Goodell at stadiums as he attended a game in Foxborough last year incognito with his 13-year-old niece.

Here is the entire NFL issued “Fan Code of Conduct”

“The National Football League and its teams are committed to creating a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience for all fans, both in the stadium and in the parking lot.

We want all fans attending our games to enjoy the experience in a responsible fashion. When attending a game, you are required to refrain from the following behaviors:

– Behavior that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal in nature

– Intoxication or other signs of alcohol impairment that results in irresponsible behavior

– Foul or abusive language or obscene gestures

– Interference with the progress of the game (including throwing objects onto the field)

– Failing to follow instructions of stadium personnel

– Verbal or physical harassment of opposing team fans

Event patrons are responsible for their conduct as well as the conduct of their guests and/or persons occupying their seats. Stadium staff will promptly intervene to support an environment where event patrons, their guests, and other fans can enjoy the event free from the above behavior. Event patrons and guests who violate these provisions will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.”

I think this is a great plan. Thankfully, I work in a climate-controlled Press Box where, for the most part, my peers behave themselves admirably. But I know there’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy a football game while you’re sitting within ear shot of some drunken nut with a big mouth. Or worse yet, a foul mouth.

I know these types won’t completely disappear, but at least some measures are being taken to help prevent the idiocy. An NFL game should be able to be enjoyed by fans of all ages. Fans make the game what it is, but they have to know how to behave themselves appropriately.

Even though I take in most of my games in the safe confines of the pressbox, where the toughest part of the crowd is in the buffet line. I thoroughly believe the NFL is right in trying to curb “over the top” drunkenness at games, because remember everything should be about the game on the field.

Sure we all like a few adult beverages at games, but drinking or other activities to the point where you can’t even remember the game is way too much. We will see how the NFL and stadiums like Lincoln Financial Field handle fans that break the code.

But I know in places like Philly, Oakland, New York (Jets), Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, the fan code of conduct will be stretched to its limits.