The Chicago Bears' visit to FedEx Field was disappointing. Not because we had an excellent vantage point of Archuleta whiffing on yet another tackle (we had a pretty good sight line on that particular display of AA's skill in Chicago), nor because first-hand visual evidence confirms that Brian Griese is, in fact, awful (also confirmed in Chicago); no, instead, for purely personal reasons, I regret going. Sports fans in all cities, for all sports, can be jack*sses. Whether you run across them in any given venue is really the luck of the draw. Two of the more pleasant NFL experiences I've had were at the Bears last two visits to FedEx. And yet some of the most disheartening sporting events I've ever been to took place in DC: A playoff game between the Wizards and Bulls in 2005 where some genius in the Wizards promotional department thought they could inspire the Wiz to greatness with a shtick whereby the Wizards mascot playfully attacked a faux fan in a Bulls jersey with silly string. Hysterical. Particularly when drunk Wizards fans started to toss $10 beers at anyone wearing black and red shortly thereafter. Several Nationals home games surrounded in Loge by a father, after downing six or seven beers, teaching his young son how to scream profanity at the opposing team's right fielder and young men who batted about xenophobic slurs towards a dad with his young son who were happily waving a small flag of the Dominican Republic. Good times. So good in fact that I walked away from my season tickets. And then there was last night. Club section, group of six, two young kids in tow and scores of belligerent, drunk, moronic purportedly Redskins fans surrounding us.
At some point, something has gone seriously wrong in the way that a significant minority of people in the DC area behave at largely populated sporting events. Want to scream the word "c*ck" over and over again for no particular reason? Head to a Redskins game. Want to call a young woman a "b*tch" for two quarters, joined by three of your best friends? FedEx is your destination. Want to shout homophobic slurs and racial epithets after dropping several hundred dollars for the pleasure of entering an arena? Grab your Miller Lite, hop on the Blue Line, jump off at Morgan Boulevard, and walk due north.
I guess I would be able to understand the phenomenon if it was young men who just wanted to get into a fight. But each and every time any of the idiots around us was physically confronted, they backed down, slinked away, stayed silent for tens of minutes, and then slowly built their confidence back up so as to express what could not be said in even the most anarchic drinking establishment. At least in our section, the motivating force for the behavior appeared to be akin to the third-grader who, upon the departure of a teacher from the classroom, tries to impress his friends by dropping a number of f-bombs for the sake of dropping of f-bombs. Strange way to seek approval, but if that is all you have going for you, well, that is all you have going for you.
I'm angry that I've been in this area long enough to see the devolution of DC professional sports (sans soccer and Women's basketball) to places where a major attraction is the ability to offend and denigrate with impunity. Ultimately, it doesn't matter and the easy answer is to just stop going to the games. I would, however, like to think that after a decade of being here, I might be able to cheer for the local teams in games that did not matter to those of my hometown. But I can't. Wizards fans made me hate the Wizards. Last night, Redskins fans have made me hate the Redskins. And, I'm fairly sure that if the Nationals ever get fans, I'll learn to hate the Nationals as well (and should hockey ever matter again, I'll probably hate the Capitals).
Whatever. It was still a good perch to view the game: