The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 5, 2013

Ojanpa: Fans ready to foam at the mouth


The NFL in 2008 came up with a fan conduct code to serve as a template for each team’s monitoring of fan behavior.

This had led to a chicken-or-egg dynamic: Does the rise in fan ejections at games indicate behavior is getting worse, or does it show that conduct-code enforcement is working?

Jerry M. Lewis, sociologist and author of “Sports Fan Violence in North America,” thinks behavior will continue to worsen.  

He says there’s a lot of anger in our society, and one way to dispel it is at sporting events, where teams encourage fans to scream and flail like banshees.

In this setting, the “please drink responsibly” message tends to get trampled like old roadkill, especially when vendors in every NFL city make nice chunks of change with T shirts reading “(Your city’s name here) is a drinking town with a football problem.”

But fans at tonight’s sort-of-ultimate football game can take heart. If their drunken emotions can’t be held in check, push comes to shove, and they get ejected or arrested, there’s this lifeline: an online behavior class.

To date, seven NFL stadiums, including Lambeau, are participating in the NFL-sanctioned online fan conduct classes.

Fans who are ejected from a game or banned entirely from a stadium must enroll in the $75 class and complete it to re-gain admittance.

It has worked — to a point. At some stadiums, banished fans refusing to take the class have been rooted out at games and arrested for entering a property without permission.

Which poses a beery quandary for these interlopers: On third down and long, do they run or trespass?


Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email


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