A Tip of the Hat to Roger Goodell and Why NASCAR and Others Should Follow Suit

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IDecember 20, 2008

Every sporting event has their share of obnoxious fans and not just the ones who like to get loud in hopes of their favorite player or team actually hearing them.

There are fans who just take it too far.

The ones who throw things, hurl insults at other spectators and athletes, use inappropriate hand gestures and so on and so forth. They just can’t control themselves, the adrenaline is too much to handle.

From major league baseball to basketball and everything in between, we’ve all sat in our seats and either a) wanted to leave because someone had ruined our day or b) give that annoying spectator a piece of our mind in hopes of them leaving.

However, giving someone a piece of your mind could result in something a lot worse.

So the NFL has come up with another way to solve your fan misconduct problem. Just pull out your cell phone and report them.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced in August that the National Football League was taking stadium surveillance to another level. They wanted to encourage fans to no longer confront the person that is bothering you or doing something obscene, instead take out your cell phone and send a text message to the stadium’s security center.

When sending the text message, tell them the problem, what your section is and then security will first locate the inappropiate fan with binoculars or security cameras and then respond to the problem.

And it’s not just for in the stadium, if you encounter a problem while outside in the parking either before or after the game, you can still contact security.

Yes, technology is a wonderful thing.

The stadium scoreboard or other places where fans gather will have signs that advertise the text messaging tip line; some even announce them over the intercom. Milt Ahlerich, the NFL’s vice president of security, says that the program is “absolutely is working. This is about empowering the fans and getting them to help us, and help security, do their jobs.”

It’s become very popular because from the start of the 2008 season more than 1,000 messages have been sent, some even sent photos as proof and on Feb. 1 at the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay the text messaging line will be open and is strongly encouraged to be used by fans.

It’s also strongly encouraged for the teams in the NFL to install and as of now 29 of the 32 teams have installed the messaging system. Only the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans haven’t taken to installing the system.

Jeffrey Miller, the NFL’s director of strategic security says, “You [the fans] can do this. It’s very easy. It’s quick. And you get an immediate response.”

So how do you know what fans to report? According to the NFL code of conduct:

·         Behavior that is unruly, disruptive or illegal in nature.

·         Intoxication or other signs of alcohol impairment that results in irresponsible behavior.

·         Foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.

·         Interference with the progress of the game (including throwing objects onto the field).

·         Failing to follow instructions of stadium personnel.

·         Verbal or physical harassment of opposing team fans.

What’s great about those conduct rules is that they can be applied to all sports. And we have all witnessed someone breaking this rules or have done so ourselves.

Adam Myrick is a Washington Redskins fan but says he refuses to take his four-year-old daughter to a game because he doesn’t feel they are safe, he has also said that he stoppped going to games this year. 

Roger Goodell and the NFL should be commended for taking steps in making sporting events not only family oriented but once again clean and fun.

It’s something that Brian France and NASCAR should think about.

Just like other sports fans, the NASCAR faithful like to get expressive and like others, some people just can’t handle themselves and give all of us a bad image and name.

For example, fans at Talladega Superspeedway decided to express their opinion of NASCAR’s ruling that Jeff Gordon had beaten Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the caution flag during a race in 2004. They proceed to litter the track with anything that wasn’t tied down.

Not only is it not classy, it's extremely dangerous for others. If you hit your target they're going to get hurt, if you miss your target your going to end up hitting someone anyway. Plus, it doesn't set a good example for the children in attendence or watching.

From then on anytime that Gordon won a race in “Earnhardt Country” he was pelted with debris. NASCAR and security tried to handle the situation by ejecting all the fans who were participating.

Wouldn’t it be easier if you had fans helping you out by telling you exactly where they are?

Or later in 2004 when Brian Vickers ran Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the grass during a pit stop in the then Pepsi 400 and the fans in the stands decided to give Vickers the one fingered salute, with their children sitting right next to them. They get nominated as parents of the year.

What about Daytona in 2002 when Michael Waltrip was ruled the winner of the Pepsi 400 after NASCAR decided to finish the race under the caution flag. Fans once again decided to decorate the track with trash.

The list goes on and on. For all sports.

Everyone has a cell phone and it seems that everyone has begun to text. This is a great system in place to help censor fans without causing a bigger and maybe even nastier scene. Some will complain that they’re being tattled on and that it’s taking personality out of the game.

You're still entitled to show your personality, that's what makes sports fans unqiue, but it's time to do it in a clean and friendly manner.

It seems pretty clear that this is a system that is worth trying in all sports as a way to bring back the fans that were driven away by the conduct they were seeing.

We’re constantly told that cell phones do no good and that we rely on them too much. That may be true but it’s should be looked at differently when they’re being used to keep people acting respectively.

Photo and reference for this article is credited to the December 19-21, 2008 issue of USA TODAY.