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49ers-Raiders Aftermath – Get Ready For Another Classic Over-Reaction

This past weekend, we had yet another episode of violence at a sporting event. This time, three people were seriously injured in separate incidents at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park during a 49ers-Raiders game.  So far, two have been upgraded to fair condition, one was a 24-year-old man who was shot several times in the stomach, and the other was a 26-year-old man who was beaten unconscious in an upper-level stadium restroom during the fourth quarter. An additional shooting victim was treated after receiving superficial facial wounds after the game.

This begs the question: What will be the response to this violence? Increase stadium security? Make sure the people who committed these crimes are arrested and have examples made of them? Revoking the season tickets of those involved?

That last one is supposedly going to happen, along with the idea of banning tailgating in the stadium parking lot after games start. Those both are good ideas, but they only go halfway in their approach as they only solve part of the problem. So what do the teams and the NFL see as a solution? Pat yourself on the back if you said we should cave in to this kind of crap and just don’t play the game.

Both the San Francisco and Oakland police departments have recommended that the annual San Francisco 49ers-Oakland Raiders exhibition game be eliminated following weekend violence during this year’s football game at Candlestick Park, officials with the 49ers told CBS San Francisco on Monday.

The 49ers said they were reviewing the police recommendations and scheduled a news conference for later in the day with team president Jed York.

The San Jose Mercury News and Oakland Tribune newspapers reported Monday that the NFL had decided to stop scheduling the rivalry game, but both 49ers officials and Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask told CBS San Francisco that no decision had yet been made on the Battle of the Bay’s future.

Welcome to another typical American over-reaction; it is weak, it is misguided, and it doesn’t solve the problem.

First of all, even though Raiders CEO Amy Trask says no decision has yet been made, you can tell cancelling the game is clearly the primary option on the table based on what she’s not saying. Go through the rest of the story; you won’t see any allusions to specific plans for solving the problem.

SFPD Chief Greg Suhr told KCBS Radio that “we added substantial numbers (of officers) for Saturday’s game” and added, “obviously we were right (to do so.)”

You would expect a police chief to talk about beefed-up security, especially since that is exactly what was done at this event. Yet, after increasing security, we still have three people shot and another beaten to a pulp.

There’s two problems here. First, we really don’t know what the original size of the security presence was, so we really can’t tell if the precautions taken for Saturday’s game were appropriate. Second of all, unless you declare martial law, security can’t stop every drunken bum who wants to throw a punch in a men’s room.

But let me ask three questions: How does somebody get into an NFL stadium or parking lot with a gun? How do they pull it out, use it, and get away in front of 50,000 witnesses? How does this happen more than once at the same event?

There’s one answer for all three questions: because even the “increased security” was monstrously inadequate. Look at any video out there on this issue; look at how long punches are being thrown without even the slightest hint of a security presence. Instead of addressing that issue, the hope is that if we simply throw our collective hands up in the air and say “nothing else could have been done, so let’s just not play the game anymore,” no one will ask the questions I just did.

But, there’s some flaws in that theory. It is one thing to call off a pre-season game, but what about the regular season?  Granted, the Raiders and 49ers don’t play each other every season, but they do play each other. What then? Suppose the it wasn’t the meeting of these two teams that was the problem; let’s say both fan bases contain a gun-wielding component prone to violence? Are they willing to cancel all of the home games for these two teams, or re-locate them to “low-crime” cities like Fargo, North Dakota and Cheyenne, Wyoming?

The bottom line is that sports venues are becoming dangerous places. This quoted story naturally makes mention of the Dodger Stadium incident this past spring.  But that is just an anecdotal example of what is by all accounts a growing problem.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, both teams and the NFL were all quick to condemn Saturday’s violence and pledged to work with law enforcement for a solution.

“Fans come to our stadiums to enjoy an afternoon of football, not to be subjected to intimidation or violence,” the mayors said in a joint statement. “The incidents are completely unacceptable.”

Lee, who was at the game, indicated Monday that he also personally observed numerous brawls among fans in the stands and was horrified at some of the conduct.

“We definitely have to curtail the violence,” he told KCBS Radio. “What we have to do is make everyone who comes into the stadium more responsible.”

Former Raiders head coach and NFL broadcaster John Madden told KCBS Radio during an interview Monday that the violence at Candlestick was symptomatic of the declining fan experience at NFL stadiums across the country.

“This isn’t something that just showed up Saturday night in San Francisco,” Madden said. “Over the years, I don’t think that the clubs, the NFL have really taken care of the fans… That’s what they have to watch out for, that the parking lots in our stadiums don’t become hangouts for hooligans, and that our stadiums don’t.”

The NFL, and sports leagues in general, would be well served to pay close attention to Madden’s comments, particularly that bit about the “declining fan experience.” It matters little if the quality of the product is first-rate, it matters little if the tickets are comfortably priced. If people can’t feel safe at the ballpark, they won’t show up. Then nobody will need to make a decision as to whether or not to play the games.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

8 comments on “49ers-Raiders Aftermath – Get Ready For Another Classic Over-Reaction

  1. patton26
    August 23, 2011

    Interesting take on the issues at hand. I think they are making the right decisions though because these issues at this game have been brewing for a while is what I’ve heard.

    Like

    • JW
      August 23, 2011

      That logic is completely backward and it misses the point. The logical extension of that thought process says if sporting events cause people to engage in bad behavior, then let’s not have sporting events.

      First of all, I don’t understand why there’s such a rush to screw the vast majority of law-abiding fans by cancelling an event they are willing to pay to see over the actions of a handful of thugs who should simply be tossed into the slammer for about 30 years.

      This begs another question: If this problem had “been brewing for a while,” what are they waiting for to do anything about it? An engraved invitation? Or do we need to wait to get somebody actually killed before the cops and the league do anything besides pay the issue some high-minded lip service?

      The reason why these silly, halfway solutions keep happening is because the obvious solutions aren’t palatable. For example, how much of this problem goes away the minute you ban all liquor sales in stadiums? Won’t happen because of the concession money at stake. How much of this problem goes away if we made stadium security as much of a priority as that of a government building? Won’t happen because there is this flawed belief that a large presence of uniformed police doesn’t lend itself to a “family friendly environment.”

      Yeah, because nothing says “family friendly” like getting your face kicked in at a ball game. It’s that kind of B.S. that got us the Dodger Stadium incident and now this.

      Bottom line: the solution lies in rounding up the bad guys and punishing them HARD, not by depriving the law-abiding fans.

      Like

  2. tophatal
    August 23, 2011

    Madden hit the nail on the head with his statement …. declining fan experience . ‘nough said !

    tophatal ………….

    Like

    • JW
      August 23, 2011

      That line jumped off the page at me as well. Truer words were never spoken.

      Like

  3. sportsattitudes
    August 23, 2011

    Great post. Maybe it’s because I live outside of Philly but I have to say I’m almost numb to this. Terrible, isn’t it? I mean, there have been police reports and sports articles written FOR YEARS about the declining fan experience. Hell, in the mid 80’s I was sitting in top-dollar seats at the Vet for Eagles games and people were brawling and smashed out of their minds. I really don’t know why this topic seems to be trending now after all these years. There needs to be a serious police presence at every event and serious consequences for those even hinting at going over the edge.

    Like

  4. chappy81
    August 23, 2011

    I think the leagues were so worried about the fans getting to players over the years that they forgot to police the fans when they were in the stands. I love the statement that Madden made.

    I completely agree with you that they shouldn’t be cancelling games and find a better way to make it safer. One thing I’ve noticed over the last decade is the 49ers fans are no longer wine and cheese folks to the Raiders biker squad. As their team descended, they’ve found some of the biker squad cast offs. Personally, I don’t like going to games that much anymore. Yes, they’re fun, but I’d almost rather be at a bar where I can watch five games at once. Not sure how you can fix that kind of thinking…

    Like

  5. Guns don’t kill people.

    Drunken, idiot football fans kill people.

    Let’s tighten up, sports fans.

    No sporting event is worth spilled blood.

    Like

  6. Drew
    August 24, 2011

    Then John Madden went on to talk about Brett Favre for the next twenty minutes saying, “It just wouldn’t have happened if Brett Favre was still playing. Favre brings joy and pure pleasure to everyone. Nobody thinks about fighting when Brett Favre is on the field. He’s like a kid out there runnin’ around and havin’ fun. If more people were like Brett Favre the world would be a better place.”

    Like

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