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David Aldridge
Sports Reporter

David Aldridge

A nationally recognized sports journalist.

Consensual Victims

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Someone more intelligent than I once said that no one can make you feel like a victim without your consent. Every day, message boards are filled with outraged Redskins fans, who hate FedEx Field, hate not being able to take the Metro there, hate paying $25 for parking, hate not being able to take three spots up to tailgate, hate paying $8 for a beer, hate the 20-minute waits to get into the bathrooms, hate forking over thousands every year for a team that seems to hover between 6-10 and 8-8 every season, hate the incessant pitches during the game to get more out of their wallets, hate the drunks with the f-bombs every third word, hate the horrendous traffic getting out of the stadium and hate Dan Snyder for making them go through the awful experience eight times a year.

So why do we keep going back?

I don't enjoy any of the game-day experience; I only go because my son loves the Redskins and loves going to the games. It's like I love the idea of going more than actually going.

When I was a kid, you couldn't get tickets. On the rare occasions that someone who had tickets didn't go, and knew my father, and gave them to him, it was like Christmas. It was special. It felt special. That's why, when my dad scored a couple, I begged him to take me to see the St. Louis Cardinals at RFK on a Monday night, even though there was a monsoon outside. (We only made it to halftime; I saw Fast Eddie Brown's punt return for a fourth-quarter touchdown back home, on TV.)

Snyder knows this. He knows people romanticize the team, wrap their lives up in its history, which is why there's so much ambivalence about changing what is clearly an odious, racist nickname. It's hard to be repulsed by something you love so much. It's all entangled; that name meant time with your family on Sundays, and pride in your city, and something that you felt belonged to you that was (at least, then) wildly successful.

For African-Americans of my generation, it's even a dizzier ride; the Redskins were the last team to integrate, which made your parents hate them, and that nickname is to Native Americans what the N-word is to you, yet Doug Williams led them to a Super Bowl, which made you love them. You loved Dexter and D Green and the Fun Bunch. It's hard to walk away from that, even though Snyder's administration has given you precious little reason to feel things are going in the right direction.

There's never going to be a boycott. That would only happen if there were a few 2-14 seasons in a row, and Snyder spends too much in the offseason to let the thing go through the floor. There is just enough hope to fork over for one more year. We are Charlie Brown; he is Lucy, with the football.

Some people, I'm sure, think Pat Hill is crazy to still be a fan, after all the dirt that was done to her by the organization. I get her completely.

By David Aldridge  |  September 4, 2009; 9:08 AM ET  | Category:  David Aldridge , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Just Say "No" to a Lockout | Next: Snyder's Reign of Error

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As always, Dave Aldridge shows why he's so insightful. The Charlie Brown/Lucy with the football reference says it all. The only other one that comes to mind is Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. At least in that movie the protagonist finally gets it...

Posted by: lance_dc7777 | September 4, 2009 4:05 PM

Excellent commentary, Mr. Aldridge. I grew up in another part of the country as a Redskins fan and didn't move here until just after the glory days. Still, I'm glad I got to see a game at RFK in '94, even if the team stunk by then. Because of that, I was shocked when I finally made my first trip to FedEx Field almost a decade later. What a horrible game experience that is. And yet people pay through the nose for it. It's getting to the point for me where I don't even want to watch them on TV anymore.

Posted by: acoberst1 | September 4, 2009 4:20 PM

Fantastic piece by David Aldridge.

I got into the Skins during the late 1990s but my interest has faded because the game experience has just gotten progressively less appealing while the actual football part of the organization continues to be woefully mismanaged.

Is owning a football team really this hard? It seems to me that the way you do it is look at the guys who usually do it right - Steelers, Giants, Titans - and just emulate whatever they're doing.

Posted by: reedjohnmiller1 | September 4, 2009 4:58 PM

I finally got fed up with Danny Boy's antics and stopped renewing my 4 season tickets, and bought a big-screen and the DirecTV NFL package instead. The steady decline of food quality at the stands, the overpriced beer and food with limited choices, the parking cost increases, and seats that never got much better each year contributed, as did the head coach carousel.

I was surprised when the ticket office called me several times in the off-season this year, asking me if I wanted to renew. That seemed a but curious to me, given what I'd heard about the size of the waiting list.

Mr. Snyder needs to hire a really good football GM, and take a back seat before the Redskins will ever be more than one more team in the middle of the pack. Jerry Jones played college football, and even Al Davis was once a coach before he became a caricature. What football credentials does D Snyder have beyond being a rich fan-boy with no patience?

Posted by: Bushman1969 | September 5, 2009 12:57 AM

Snyder needs to come the realization that 'most profitable' is not the same as 'the best'.

Economic times are difficult these days, but Snyder still manages to shake his fans upside down to get the pennies that fall to the ground (or is it dollars?)

$8 dollars for a beer is pricey for downtown Washington. It's larceny in a football game at FEDEX field.

Posted by: postfan1 | September 5, 2009 2:30 AM

I was at that Monday night game against the Cardinals. I can still see Eddie Brown splashing down the field as his pursuers kept slipping and sliding and falling down behind him. It was cold and wet that night, and it was great! RFK was the perfect place for the fans and the team. Then everything changed- Cooke died, his son was unable to take over , and then HE arrived, along with the horrible mistake that is FedEx Field. Danny better keep cashing in while he can, because I think the writing is on the wall. Sooner or later the sheep will no longer be willing to be shorn, and he'll finally pay the price for his arrogance and incompetence.

Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Posted by: justmike | September 5, 2009 6:05 AM

Yeah David, Sundays with the family, my sisters and me, sitting on that bench seat in the back of my dad's Plymouth Belvedere, coming back from a nice Sunday meal, listening to the game on the AM radio, listening to Redskin football-one of my most favorite memories of childhood!! Forever sullied by the avaricious twerp who runs the team now. He and His lawyer Donovan should be visited by the ghost of the Squire, and led to the lives they are hurting a la Bob Marley, so that they may make redemptive amends. My passion for this team for over 40 years is only exceeding by my disdain for them!

Jimmy V

Posted by: jv_cfpllc | September 5, 2009 8:06 AM

My sister just gave me tickets to a game for November. I will probably pass them on to my kids due to the hassle of even getting to, much less enjoying, the game.

I remember being at RFK on a crisp, fall day singing "Hail to the Redskins" after a touchdown by John Riggins while the stands rocked under my feet. THAT was the way to see a game.

Posted by: KLT4370 | September 5, 2009 8:15 AM

I am not much of a football fan and worked for a local law enforcement in Baltimore suburban. When the Ravens came to town, entire police department shoveled the Redskins stuff in the closets and propped up Ravens poster everywhere. I know fan loyalty is like religion and how come these guys changed their religion overnight? A sarge told me: "You gotta live in town for a while to understand all this." Well, fast-forward to a couple years later, that sarge showed me an article on Washpost about Ravens and their owner Art Modell went to FedEx Field and got a rude treatment. The article quoted Art Modell saying "When they come up here, we will treat them with class." And the sarge told me: "See that? They are no class down there."

If my son's friend come over to my house, I may ignore him but if his parent drives him over, I'll come out to say Hi. Is that the way we are taught in school?

Posted by: BabuiBoomerang | September 5, 2009 9:00 AM

All I can say is buck up! I love the Redskins since the 70's, but I have never purchased a ticket to FedEx and I never will, as long as Dan Snyder owns the team. It's not a hard choice at all, and it certainly hasn't caused me any suffering.

Posted by: Pepper5 | September 5, 2009 9:10 AM

Teams and owners that treat their fans well will be popular with them. Those that don't won't. It's that simple.

A team doesn't have to be a winning team to enjoy fan support. Those are the teams that are fun. The Redskins -- and some others -- don't fall into that category.

Posted by: gce1356 | September 5, 2009 10:47 AM

Actually, the Redskins' segregationist history was why I always rooted for the Colts as a youngster.

I've been to a few games at FedEx. Sitting at the top, I thought I was closer to New Jersey than the field (I swear I could see the Del. Mem. Bridge). I had seats in the lower bowl a couple of times, but the traffic and parking make attending future games a non-starter (not to mention the cost).

Posted by: gbooksdc | September 5, 2009 11:27 AM

I have partial season tix to the Nationals and in almost 5 years and over 100 games attended, I have NEVER experienced what I saw at FedEx field in two games a couple of years ago. Extraordinary drunkenness, fans of the opposing team being verbally abused by drunk/angry fans, t-shirts that said "F--k Dallas" all over the stadium. I would never take my children to that place. They are too young to learn some of the language I heard and I don't want to have to explain why some people behave the way they do over a football team. Not going back.

Posted by: RJD1 | September 5, 2009 10:32 PM

I like the games.

Not going anymore until Snyder is out of it. But the games always have been fun for me, I went to about 30 this decade. Was there for the biggest win ever over the Cowboys (35-7) tailgated eggs, steaks, hot dogs, smoked cigars, drank beer, don't swear but don't care if others do. Saw like, three fights the whole time, that's nothing among 90,000 people drinking beer. Washington has the highest ratio of PhDs of any area in the country, the crowd is extraordinarily well behaved so the lowlifes really stick out. The ones who are shocked are living in lala land, they need to have a beer and lighten up.

Posted by: kls1 | September 5, 2009 10:59 PM

When the Rams moved to St Louis and required fans to purchase a seat license before they could get a season ticket, I knew I would never attend a Rams game.

I've heard of a fishing license, a hunting license, a driver's license, but a football license simply so a rich owner can rake in more money is ridiculous.

Posted by: alstl | September 5, 2009 11:01 PM

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