Yesterday afternoon, the NFL released a new bag policy that has ruffled quite a few feathers. The league is prohibiting fans from bringing in numerous previously allowed bags, including backpacks, fanny packs, camera bags, and an assortment of other bags. The new NFL rules allow for the following:
- Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12" x 6" x 12." (Official NFL team logo clear plastic tote bags are available through club merchandise outlets or at nflshop.com), or
- One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).
- Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap, may be carried into the stadium along with one of the clear bag options.
- An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at a gate designated for this purpose.
Per the NFL, "Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, luggage of any kind, seat cushions, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size." You can read more about the NFL's policy at NFL.com/AllClear.
There has been quite a bit of reaction to this new policy. Some people don't care, but a lot of people are at least a little bit dismayed by this change in policy. Women in particular have sounded off about not being able to bring purses into the game. Additionally, there are some questions about things like diaper bags. Friend of the site, The Football Girl, spoke with a league spokesperson and got this response on that:
Simply put the contents of the diaper bag into an approved bag. If there are necessary medical items for the child there would be an exception made after proper inspection at a gate designated for this purpose. The 12x6x12 bag is a decent size and can fit diapers, bottles, wipes, etc ... And it's one bag per person so other family members would be able to help."
I suppose that can help to some extent, but in some ways, I wonder how much the NFL really thought through this whole process. They want to improve the game-day experience so people will not decide to skip games and watch from home. Speeding up access helps, but this strikes me as a bit draconian in the inconveniences it could impose on people. If you have a nice camera to take semi-professional style photos, are you really going to bring the camera with no bag?
They are saying it is to speed up access to the stadium and improve safety. Maybe people can bring in fewer weapons with fewer bags, but the safety issue goes far beyond just bags. While I think that overall, attending an NFL game is a safe experience, there are enough alcohol-related incidents that need to be addressed in some form or fashion. The 49ers took significant steps following the incidents at the preseason game with the Raiders. Some viewed it as over the top, but I think to some extent, something extreme had to be done. It might be viewed as punishing more innocent people, but when people are getting shot and stabbed, you can't be meek in response.
I don't know if banning alcohol at games is the answer, in part because there are people who get wasted out in the parking lot. I dealt with it when I went to the 49ers-Patriots game, and saw issues at a 49ers-Seahawks game in Seattle. At the Patriots game, some clowns were throwing quarters at me for most of the first quarter. The two people smirked when I said anything to them. Eventually I started calling out the people around them that were not with the two guys and they forced them to stop.
I realize that is only one incident, and if you take every single fan at every single game, an overwhelming majority have a perfectly comfortable experience at games. But there are enough incidents happening that something needs to be done. The NFL may not be attempting to "directly" encourage people to drink at games, but encouragement is happening. This leads to incidents before, during and after the game at the facility, and then gets incredibly dangerous people out on the road. The NFL is attempting to address these issues, but there are times it seems like they are brushing over some of the more important angles. And when you see beer ads every other commercial, it makes you wonder how much the league actually cares about safety over money. How much of it is just paying lip service to cover their butts (this seems to develop into a running NFL theme at times).
What are your thoughts on the bag policy, security at games and the issues of alcohol and fan safety?