In a misguided attempt to make public safety a “number one priority,” the National Football League announced a stringent new policy that limits the size and types of bags that can be carried into stadiums. While the NFL is actually encouraging that fans leave ALL bags at home (by just “putting the stuff you need in your pockets”), if fans INSIST on bringing "excessive" items in order to help them enjoy their game day experience, the bags containing those items will need to fit the following guidelines:
- Clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC bags that do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12.” And, try not to be shocked, but guess what? You can find bags that fit JUST that description at the NFL shop!
- A one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag. Because nothing says easy to carry around and totally impossible to steal like a plastic freezer bag.
- Small clutch bags approximately “THE SIZE OF A HAND.” So, you know. The bag you used for prom.
Things that are forbidden: purses, coolers, briefcases, fanny packs, cinch bags, computer bags, camera bags, and seat cushions. Fans are also not allowed to keep their binoculars or cameras in a separate bag/case. Because that’s a fabulous way to take care of your expensive equipment!
First, let me explain why this policy is totally discriminatory against women/parents, in case it’s not totally obvious. Lots of people bring their family members to the game. Sometimes one or more of those family members require things like: diapers, bottles, baby wipes, a changing pad, special snacks, and other things I don’t know about because I’ve never actually taken care of a baby. But I've seen a diaper bag before and babies require a LOT of stuff. And compartments to keep it all organized.
The NFL doesn’t see this as a problem as they claim all you need to do is “simply put the contents of the diaper bag into an approved bag.” The NFL spokesman says, “The 12x6x12 bag is a decent size and can fit diapers, bottles, wipes, etc. I had a to go bag that size for my kids that worked well on day trips. And it's one bag per person so other family members would be able to help."
Ah, isn’t it cute to assume that all families have more than one adult who’s able to help and carry another bag? That’s not presumptuous or anything.
It also assumes that the family doesn’t need anything else with them EXCEPT for those items, which is also just silly. Not everyone wants to spend money on food at the stadium, not to mention that weather is likely to change over the course of the day and a bag is where one would keep additional layers, souvenirs, sunscreen, or (like one lady who sits in front of me likes to bring) a book for when they get bored.
And if that's not bad enough, the new policy is also ageist. My explanation may be ageist in and of itself, but the people I see carrying seat cushions into the stadium are most often elderly fans. Those plastic seats are very hard and can really start to hurt after a while. (I've left the game covered in bruises from bumping into them.) And I’m “young.” I can only assume that taking the option of seat cushions away from anyone (not just the elderly) who might need the extra padding is a burden that might create unnecessary aches and pains.
But those aren’t even my biggest gripes with the new policy. The fact of the matter is requiring everyone to carry a clear bag is simply in NO way, shape, or form “safer” than allowing us to use opaque bags. In fact, in some cases, it might actually be more dangerous.
I’ve already pointed out that a one-gallon Ziploc bag isn’t exactly easy to tote around. Now imagine those placed on sinks or counters or underneath seats. I’ve been in stadiums where everyone is standing shoulder to shoulder trying to push through a corridor; it would be much easier for someone to yank that bag out of a person’s hand and disappear into the crowd than it would be than a big with a strap.
The clear tote bag is also a huge safety concern. Not everyone drives to the game. In fact, if anything, the NFL should be promoting using public transportation. Which is how I get to and from the games. Often times, I end up taking a bus home by myself when my guest and I are going different directions at the end of the game.
So now imagine this: It’s close to 10 p.m. on a Monday night. It’s dark outside. I’m a female alone on the bus. And I’m carrying a transparent bag through which people can see all of my personal belongings: my iPhone, my binoculars, my camera, my wallet, my mini radio (yes, I’m that girl), and whatever else I have with me. Doesn’t really feel like my safety is the NFL’s “number one priority” now, does it?
Also, it’s just inconvenient. It requires that anyone who needs to bring a bag inside the stadium (and yes, that is “need” -- not “want” as the NFL seems to assume) now has to go out and purchase a ridiculous see-through tote bag that s/he likely won't use for any other occasion. As though we’re not already spending enough money on tickets and all of the rest of it.
I understand that we live in a world where people shoot each other and set off bombs and do horrible, terrible things. I just don't believe that making people carry a clear bag of a limited size is going to change that or even prevent it. If someone wants to blow people up at an NFL game, they can drive their truck full of explosives into the parking lot and detonate it an hour before kickoff. If someone wants to shoot someone, they can wait until everyone is leaving the game and pull their gun out then. In fact, that’s how they did it in 2011 at Candlestick. Clear plastic bags also won’t prevent things like the fan who was stabbed as he was heading into the stadium before the 49ers played the Giants last year.
The NFL claims they did research and that “female fans only find the policy to be a minor inconvenience.” I suppose in a male-dominated sport/world, that’s not a reason for them to reconsider. Perhaps that will change when every man who goes to a game is suddenly forced to carry his own personal clear tote bag full of snacks, extra layers and tampons. After all, “other family members can help!”
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