Keeping Score

Why Boorish NFL Fans Are Going to the Shrink

Fans ejected from NFL stadiums must now take a conduct course in order to return

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Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

Two fans fight during the NFL season-opener game between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in California on Sept. 10, 2012. Spectators who are ejected from stadiums must now take an online conduct course in order to return

If you go to NFL games and tend to act like a jackass, you might think about toning it down. Why? Because starting this season, if you get kicked out of a stadium for bad behavior, the NFL will be sending you to a shrink.

The virtual kind, that is. In order for ejected NFL fans to attend another game, they must complete a four-hour online “fan conduct tutorial” developed by Ari Novick, a psychotherapist from California. These sessions, found on fanconductclass.com, aren’t cheap: some teams, like the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions, are charging $55, while the New England Patriots charge $100. “If you can afford a ticket to an NFL game,” says Novick, “you can afford to take this class.” Proceeds above $55 are donated to charity; the Patriots, for example, give $45 of every payment to the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers. The class requires at least 70% of the questions on its final exam to be answered correctly to pass.

Enforcement of this policy may prove challenging. While season-ticket holders are fairly easy to track, if I bought a seat to a game via StubHub, who would know if I completed a course? If my face is on some kind of “Keep Out” list, I can try to disguise myself. But these end arounds carry a risk: if I’m caught sneaking back into a stadium, the cops can lock me up for trespassing.

So what does the class cover? Well, it gets pretty deep. It’s divided into a dozen chapters, with titles like “Communication Is King,” “Skills in Stress Management” and “The Cost of Alcohol Abuse in America.” One section, called “Gaining Skills in Empathy,” notes that “emotions are what allow us to grow in love. They are the object of poetry, art and music. Emotions fill us with a sense of connection to others. In many ways, emotions make life worth living. How we experience the world, relate to others and find meaning in life are dependent upon how we regulate our emotions.”

(MORE: How to Save Money on NFL Tickets: Wait Until the Last Minute to Buy)

That drunk in Section D will get in touch with his feelings.

It’s easy to roll your eyes. But Novick insists that loutish fans often need rudimentary lessons. “The program is designed to make people who don’t exercise good judgment think,” he says. To absorb the material, you must spend a set amount of time on each page. You receive frequent pop quizzes. “Which of the following is a specific assertive remedy to the harmful pattern of contempt?” asks one question. “A. Give and take praise, B. accept responsibility, C. learn how to listen, or D. express feelings openly.”

So, yeah, you should probably pay attention. (The answer, by the way, is A. Give and take praise.)

Four hours of this is painful. And that’s part of the point. “If you don’t have consequences to back up the rules,” says Novick, “rules fall flat.” At first glance, this policy seems a bit controlling. Isn’t getting kicked out humiliation enough? And now the NFL — whose product, by the way, consists of men mauling one another — is going to send me to my room for a four-hour lecture, for the right to spend my money how I want?

Still, the fan-conduct class is worth rooting for, because it can only help deter spectator foolishness. And if one fewer knucklehead starts a fight because he doesn’t want to spend $55 and a long afternoon taking a multiple-choice test, the whole stadium should give the NFL, and Novick, a standing ovation.

(MORE: Bountygate Suspensions Overturned: Really a Victory for NFL Players?)

20 comments
Micarl
Micarl

Somewhere, life from outerspace was picking up our internet signals while searching for signs of intelligent life on Earth. The first thing they came across was this picture. Their response was "Move on, nothing to see here."

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Wonder if this kind of therapy would work for the Tea Party?

Flogmybishop
Flogmybishop

I dunno, but im pretty sure idiots like you are immune.

CNNian Baboon
CNNian Baboon

Read a few of these comments and never seen it so thought I would throw it out there... Will they also be paying your hospital bill when they fracture your bone with that steel baton (must be a security guard holding it or should I way swinging it) towards the mads neck with the hood over his head?? 

Matt Verhoeven
Matt Verhoeven

Yes, because when I'm drunkenly berating your team, I'm going to stop and consider your feelings first

Abc
Abc

erwww

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

Who's going to be at their games? These guys just need to take a deep breath and visualize a real class act, like Ben Rothliesberger maybe.

Don Lime
Don Lime

I could never see how people could get so goddamn serious over sports. I thought they were meant to be fun. That being said there are people in the world who think fighting is fun.

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

well. good luck trying to convert idlots into humans 

Rusty Shackelford
Rusty Shackelford

I love sports. LOVE sports. Go to a lot of games for various teams. I've been lit up plenty of times at games. Maybe I'm just one of those guys that is a fun/happy drunk, but it has never crossed my mind to get in a fight with another fan. I'm out to have a good time, why ruin it? Yeah, let's fight because they guys you like are wearing laundry different from the guys I like. Some people should not be allowed out in public. If people in your section are acting up, get security, that is what they are there for. A lot of teams now allow you to text their guest services to report rowdy fans. Totally anonymous. Use this if you can.

Ironbill
Ironbill

Took my kids to a Giants game several years ago.  Thought it would be a great father and sons outing.  Boy was I wrong.

Never been back, and never will go again.

Atlas Barfed.
Atlas Barfed.

 Actually it is much different now. Giants tickets are almost all season tickets. After the new stadium was put up, the Giants made all season ticket holders, old and new, pony up a one time "Personal Seat License" for the privilege of BUYING your season tickets? Price of a PSL? $50,000.  They are nice enough to let you pay in two equal installments over a 4 month period.  Bottom line is that the drunk in section 108 is now a yuppy with no interest in football who just wants to brag that he shelled out tons of money for seats that he sat in for 3 hours staring down at his Iphone5.  Good in some ways, bad in others.  (My family has had season tickets for 30 or 40 years. I ended up a Panthers fan because of my experiences going to games as a kid, so I understand your point.  I am glad I did end up a Panthers fan too, since my brother ended up with both sets of 4 season tickets on account of my bank account not being sufficient to buy the tickets.

The Write Man
The Write Man

About time rowdy sports fans get what's coming to them.

zaglossus
zaglossus

I wouldn't think of going to an NFL game. Too many louts.

applesauce585
applesauce585

It's the "BEER", too much of it with no common sense and taking these games so personally as though their the owners of the team...causes this "Friction."

Daygogirl08
Daygogirl08

I agree but the chargers stop the sale of beer after the first quarter when the raiders come to town. maybe they should do it for all games

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