The NFL hopes to maximize in-person attendance at its games. To ensure that the stands at every stadium are consistently filled, fans of the visiting team need to feel comfortable with the prospect of showing up in enemy territory and rooting for the road team.
In San Francisco, the resurgence of the 49ers apparently has created an environment of “hostility, vulgarity and intimidation” for fans of the road team, according to a letter to the editor published by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Don Moses of Mill Valley details the disastrous day that he and his daughters endured, both in the parking lot and in the stadium. It’s a fairly short letter, and it’s worth a read.
Though conduct like this is wrong, it’s virtually impossible to prevent it at NFL stadiums, especially when the zealous fans the NFL craves have their tongues loosened by a bottle of beer, or four.
The smart move when rooting for a visiting team is to dress in neutral clothing and cheer discreetly. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. The reality is that, in many NFL cities, that’s the way it will be. Especially if the teams are going to continue to sell beer and otherwise play up the importance of a loud, raucous home crowd.