The League

Dan Steinberg
Staff Writer

Dan Steinberg

Washington Post sports blogger and author of the D.C. Sports Bog

Violation of Fandom

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Fans have been critical of all sorts of Redskins' moves this season, from the lack of capable offensive line backups, to the confusion over who's calling plays to the manic treatment of the quarterback position. All justifiable critiques, and all extremely important to football fans.

Failing in those areas, though, falls within the bounds of normal sporting experiences. There are dozens of stinky teams in every level of every professional sport. It's horrible for the fans, and it's frustrating, and it causes high blood pressure and excessive drinking, but it's part of the sports covenant.

Banning signs, though, rips that covenant into a million little shreds, then stomps on it with muddy boots, and then feeds it to some ravenous donkey. To me, that's just outside the bounds of the basic agreement that sports is entertainment that provides some weird combination of joy and agony in our lives. Sure, right now, many (but not all) of the signs at FedEx Field are expressing anger, but that hasn't and won't always be the case.

I've seen signs of Wizards fans written in Ukrainian and French, signs of Nats fans written on giant sheets, signs of D.C. United fans made in Europe and held aloft by hundreds of supporters. This is an intrinsic part of my fan experience. It lets fans be creative, ridiculous, outraged, happy and weird. It lets the attention seekers seek attention, the children feel like they're a part of it all, and it gives identity to different sections and different people.

I've joked for weeks about the Burgundy Revolution sweeping through this area, but it's mostly been a joke, mixing in the language of political rebellion to describe the actions of fans and front-office members. Now, though, it really seems apt; when the message from fans has gotten angry, the powerbrokers have cracked down and attempted to ban creative expression.

Sure, that's their right as business owners, but it's not their right as sports owners. Maybe it's silly, but this has gotten me angrier than any other Redskins misstep I can remember. They've excised part of the joy of going to a sporting event, merely to protect their own hides, and it's something I can't forgive.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 30, 2009; 8:35 AM ET  | Category:  Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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I would hope that football games are still civil places. Families attending have the right to not have to worry about their children being exposed to "R" rated vulgarities.

I also understand that fans want to express their frustrations with the team. It has been a tough couple of years but there are better forums for that kind of thing. I don't think this rule is about censoring public outrage, but about protecting our youngsters. Family-friendly is the goal here. If you don't believe me, then you can try riding home for two hours with twin 5-year-old boys chanting "F-word Dan Snyder!"

Posted by: wkate2 | October 30, 2009 3:11 PM

I would hope that football games are still civil places. Families attending have the right to not have to worry about their children being exposed to "R" rated vulgarities.

I also understand that fans want to express their frustrations with the team. It has been a tough couple of years but there are better forums for that kind of thing. I don't think this rule is about censoring public outrage, but about protecting our youngsters. Family-friendly is the goal here. If you don't believe me, then you can try riding home for two hours with twin 5-year-old boys chanting "F-word Dan Snyder!"

Posted by: wkate2 | October 30, 2009 3:15 PM

WKate- First of all, no football games are no longer family friendly. Too much alcohol is consumed before and during the games for many adults to consider the sensibilities of young children hearing the vulgarities coming out of their mouths. Family Friendly football games will never be the goal as long as the team can make more money selling $100 nose-bleed tickets to adults who want to pay $9 for a beer and scream "F--- the Cowboys" or "F--- the Quarterback." If you want family friendly football, try the local High School on Friday nights.

Second of all, if the team was banning vulgar, obscene or inappropriate signs, nobody would care. The Redskins are banning ALL signs. They are banning signs that say "Go Redskins" and "To My Husband In Afghanistan I Love You." They are trying to eliminate expression at an event people go to because they are passionate about the team. While it is completely within Snyder's legal rights to do this with his privately owned team, this is absurd, and I hope it leads to a reduction in tickets sold and a loss in precious revenue for the owner. If your worried about the children, your missing the point completely.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | October 31, 2009 12:50 PM

I would hope that football games are still civil places. Families attending have the right to not have to worry about their children being exposed to "R" rated vulgarities.
I also understand that fans want to express their frustrations with the team. It has been a tough couple of years but there are better forums for that kind of thing. I don't think this rule is about censoring public outrage, but about protecting our youngsters. Family-friendly is the goal here. If you don't believe me, then you can try riding home for two hours with twin 5-year-old boys chanting "F-word Dan Snyder!"
Posted by: wkate2 | October 30, 2009 3:11 PM
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What does fans yelling obscenities have to do with an article about Snyder banning all signs in Fedex field? I would guess those same people screaming obscenities would be able to scream them regardless if they have a sign or not so I'm having a hard time seeing your point here. Vulgar signs and conduct have been banned for years at all stadiums. The difference here is that signs of ANY kind have been banned from the stadium to (in my opinion) protect the owner from criticism.

Posted by: 6thsense79 | October 31, 2009 12:58 PM

The Shrimp wants to ban signs so people will have to work a little harder to get by the Gestapo at the front gate. Are we allowed to fly over FedEx or has Snyder banned the airways? We could airlift signs into the stadium. Down with the Danny!!

Posted by: wcasey1 | October 31, 2009 3:59 PM

Join the plan to turn FedEx Field itself into a sign Snyder can't ban:

http://fire-snyder-sign.blogspot.com/2009/10/fedex-field-sign-snyder-can-ban.html

Posted by: A1232 | October 31, 2009 8:44 PM

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