I really thought I was prepared for the NFL’s new “All Clear” bag safety policy at Saturday’s Redskins game. I packed only critical supplies in a small purse; my friend Nicole used a gallon plastic baggie, per instructions with our tickets from the amazing Women of Washington Redskins (@WOWRedskins) fan club.
Our seats were forehead-slappingly good: front-row on the 50-yard-line where we enjoyed free food, sodas, and water with our new girlfriends. We blew kisses at the players and listened in on injury reports while taking in those special little details that really make a game great: a butterfly landing on a tailback’s shoulder, the glint of a Super Bowl ring, and lots and lots of scratching.
But soon, I had a problem: Maryland sun is surprisingly intense at 4:30 p.m.—and I had no sunblock. Where would I store it? We had to put our WOW freebie t-shirts under our seats, where they endured ketchup, spills, and our shoe soles. My phone, which kept falling out of my pocket, became so hot lying on the concrete I had to hold it the entire time. And so on…
I used to lament placing my purse under my seat at sports events where gosh-knows-what was sloshing around, but at least it was cool in there, with all my swag in one place.
Now I found myself fumbling around for common items that couldn’t be safely consolidated because the NFL, in an attempt to speed safe entry into stadiums, has implemented strict standards on container size–or you will be watching from the parking lot.
I enjoyed the game, but I couldn’t pay attention, worried something might slide off onto the field (Excuse me, RGIII, could you hand me those Ray-Bans?). I just couldn’t fit it all in my “small clutch bag, approximately the size of a hand,” as directed by the NFL.
A hand? Hold out your hand. What can you fit in it? A credit card, ID, a lipstick. Maybe a cellphone or car keys. And now you’re set to cheer for your favorite NFL team!
Unless you also need: sunglasses, regular glasses, hand sanitizer, contact solution, business cards, rain ponchos, pens, chargers, Tylenol…and that’s just the adults. For kids there are diapers, bottles, toys…You can bring your feminine products—which, by the way, are not supplied in stadium bathrooms—but for all the world to see.
To be fair, the NFL seems to sort of understand the difficulties the new policy presents, (these bags offer “quite a lot of storage space!” says the website). It emphasizes the policy is not against the items you bring in, but their containers, so blankets and binoculars are allowed. And every individual, including children, is allowed one bag (which, conveniently, you can now purchase for $11.95 with your team’s logo from the NFL website!).
But if that expensive new camera doesn’t fit, prepare to wear it on your neck the whole game, because its case is not allowed.
I get the need for expediting entry, and bags have been searched at sporting events for years. But when you’re going to be packed in with a 100,000 of your fellow humans all day, it takes a few more supplies than your Chap Stick. And since one-third of NFL fans are women—a strong showing but still the minority—I have to wonder how well we were represented on the “Task Force of league, club, and stadium executives” behind the new policy.
I don’t think I’m being a “girl” here—ask any guy about the George Costanza “stuffed wallet” episode of Seinfeld, and he will understand. Only so much will fit in your pockets.
But we’ve all stood in line behind the moron at the airport wearing too much jewelry or a rodeo belt buckle; or missed a great play because of a drunken jerkwad, or the Victoria Beckham-wanna-be blocking your view, chatting on her phone in the aisle as your favorite quarterback/goalie/point guard/outfielder makes a spectacular play.
If only the NFL could regulate people’s behavior. Til then, Mama’s got a brand new, very tiny, bag.
(What are your thoughts? Is the “All Clear” policy necessary and fair, or a way to make money? Will it help with speed and safety? Let me know! And don’t forget to LIKE US on Facebook for fun and contests!)