The National Football League is cracking down on unruly, drunken, abusive and illegal behavior. It’s a good PR move and about time, you might say, for a league whose players frequent the police blotter and push the limits of public tolerance toward prima donna star athletes. From dog fighting to drunken sexual assault cruises, the NFL has pretty much cornered the market on athlete misbehavior (and wrist-slap punishment) in recent years.
But the league isn’t implementing a new code of conduct for its players – it’s after you, the fans, with new guidelines for behavior expected of the millions who'll attend an NFL game this year.
Getting a lesson in manners from the NFL doesn’t just smack of hypocrisy, it’s comical. Among the bans in a new policy outlined this week and rubber-stamped by the 32 sheep-like franchises: “behavior that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal,” “drunkenness and signs of alcohol impairment that result in irresponsible behavior,” and “foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.”
I know some folks that fit those descriptions and they all go to work with pads on and numbers on their backs.
Any fan in violation of these new rules will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.
So, if you’re a misbehaving player in the NFL, you just have to sit out a few games. If you’re a fan – paying about $100-a-seat with some even shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a license just to buy that seat – you could be gone for good. That threat applies even if you give your tickets to a friend or sell them to another party that misbehaves in your seat. That kind of responsibility would be like punishing an entire league for the conduct of one of its players, no?
The NFL should clean up its conduct on and off the field before it takes aim at the stands.