Going to the Bears vs. 49ers: Drawing a Line in the Sand

“You’re not going to wear your Bears’ jerseys, are you?  Don’t do it. I’m serious.”

John was rather emphatic , after I told him and his wife, Cris, (Ms. Fantasy Football Queen, who wins her Leagues every year), that I was going to the Bears v. 49er game November 19, Monday night, with my younger son, Ari, who was flying in from NYC.

Cris smiles and gives a chuckle.  David, my husband, is shaking his head with that “oh no” look.

“You’ve heard about all the violence on the visiting team folks, right? Like Bryan Stow, the SF Giants fan , who got beaten up in the Dodger parking lot this year, while wearing his Giants’ jersey!”  John continues.  “And you’ve got to watch Bryant Gumbel’s HBO Sports show about “Fan-on-Fan Violence.”

“Yeah, I know. But we’re Bears’ fans, with our Urlacher jerseys, beanies, sweater fleeces, jackets and blankets.  And the Bay area has TONS of Chicago transplants.  They’ll all be there.  This is what we do,” I answer.  “Full regalia."

Interesting, I think.  Cris and I are of “one mind.”  The female sports junkies who are plastered on our TV’s every Sunday, while our husbands are planning their next music gigs.

“We’ll be careful,” I reply.  “Ari got tickets in the same section with his friends from college, 49er fans.  They’ll protect us.”

In September, my son scheduled his flight home for Thanksgiving, to make sure he’d be back for the game.  Still crazy after all these years, and passing it down from generation to generation.  If only my parents were alive to see how my sons learned so much of what they taught their kids and grandkids – Love Thy Bears!  They’d be SO proud.

Candlestick Park is 4 hrs. away by car, from Chico. So we’ll come and go in one day, with a lot of coffee to help out after the game.  I mean, we’re only doing what other Bears fans do – travel to the games, just like Lovie talks about.

But David has different ideas.  My husband won’t go to ANY game if it’s below 69 degrees, period.  And ‘The Stick’ can be cold and windy, especially at night.

Too bad – he missed going with us, seeing Cutler to Olsen, when the Bears played Seattle in the playoffs.  What a great TD pass to start that game.  And I only wish we had a decent tight end these days.  Jeremy Shockey, where art thou?

So right after John and Cris left, I started “googling” fan-on-fan violence, along with searching for information regarding Gumbel’s show.  There were literally hundreds of instances throughout the world, in all sporting events, where fan-on-fan violence has been well documented, going back over 30 years.

Later that week, Outside the Lines also did a show on this topic, featuring among others, Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director & CEO of Alcohol Justice in the Bay Area.

Mr. Livingston reported that in the U.S., the two factors which appear to correlate most highly with fan violence are no surprise:  alcohol abuse, and tail-gating before the games in the parking lots.

In a radio interview on KCBS of the Bay Area, 10/25/ 12, Mr. Livingston informed his listeners that 1out of 12 fans are legally drunk after leaving a game, and 14 times more likely to be legally drunk if they had been tailgating before the game.

However, the number one reason he reported as the “cause” for this high rate of alcoholism with sporting events and violence, can be laid at the feet of the advertising industry.   Wow, little did I know that Don Draper and all the Mad Men after him, would be major players in this type of affair.  Livingston reports that ads began 50 – 60 years ago, seeping into our consciousness: telling us that the way to enjoy any sporting event is to consume alcohol, and lots of it.

Thus, we have created a culture where alcohol is becoming a “central element “ to enjoy our sports.  Not just one or two drinks, but enough to get our blood alcohol level above .08, along with any behavior that follows.  With this information, stadium security begins before the game, vigilantly watching tailgaters, including extra security using extensive texting to each other, as never before.

With this in mind, I’ve decided that we’ll take my husband’s plain, 9 year old white car.  Mine is bright red, with every Chicago sports team bumper sticker on it, including a Blackhawks’  trailer hitch cover. Win or lose, I can already see slashed tires and broken windows upon returning to it, after the game. I’m not willing to gamble with unchecked aggression.

Too bad, since I’ll miss my XM radio and all the sports stations plugged in on my favorite channels, for the 8 hrs. of driving.   Survive, we will.  I’ll just have to miss listening to Around the Horn, PTI, Inside Pitch with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden,  and any pre-game ESPN hype.

And, if Jason Campbell is our QB that night, so be it.  Two of my graduate students, who are heavy Oakland Raider fans, were rather upset that their team let both Campbell and Bush “go.”  They told me “the Bears are getting quality players, just you wait and see, Dr. J.”

Well, Angel and Robert, shall I hold my breath for Monday’s game on that one?  Or stay rather vigilant about how hard I cheer when our defense holds Frank Gore or Vernon Davis to less yards than their game average?

Hey,  we’re still going. Four hundred miles added on to the car,  listening to very late night talk shows, freeway traffic jams over the Bay Bridge – it’s all worth it.   Da Bears.  We’re talking about drawing a line in the sand, here.

And then we’ll go bowling on Tuesday, with Cris and Ari checking out their Fantasy Football standings. Me, I'll be rolling to just win.

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