The NFL hatched during the 2011 playoffs the brilliant (and that’s not sarcastic . . . for a change) idea of putting undercover cops in the visiting team’s gear in order to catch those who would subject fans of the visiting team to mistreatment. The NFL has a somewhat less brilliant idea for allowing unruly fans back into games.
According to Gary Buiso of the New York Post, the NFL will require ejected fans to pass an online code of conduct exam before they can return.
The test will be administered upon completion of a four-hour online course, which costs $75. To pass the test, the fans must answer correctly at least 70 percent of the following brain-twisting (sarcasm) true-or-false questions: “Every fan has a right to like any team they wish. Using abusive language towards fans who support teams you don’t like will not be tolerated.”
The program was first used in 2010, at MetLife Stadium and Gillette Stadium.
It makes sense to give fans a second chance, especially at a time when the NFL desperately wants fans to choose to attend games. But, again, a second chance gone bad can become the foundation of a lawsuit. If the NFL allows a fan who has been flagged for abusive behavior back into the building based on the outcome of a least-common-denominator online test and the fan inflicts injury on another fan at some point in the future, the NFL, the team, and/or the stadium will face the argument that the powers-that-be negligently failed to protect the injured fan from someone they knew or should have known to be a potential source of violent behavior.
Of course, those claims will likely be covered by insurance. And it’s far easier to pay the premiums if you let unruly fans buy tickets — especially after they fork over an extra $75 for the privilege of doing so.