Arenas are no stranger to huge souvenir cups of beer and pumping adrenaline, so it is no surprise when fights break out between fans. Now, one sports franchise is trying to solve that problem.
In what may sound like a pilot for a USA dramedy but the NFL is beginning a policy mandating that fans who are kicked out of stadiums for fighting must go to therapy.
Fans who want to buy another ticket must go to four hours of a "fan-conduct tutorial" developed by California psychotherapist Ari Novick. It's virtual, but it's intense nonetheless - and they don't come cheap. Sessions conducted on fanconductclass.com can run from $55, charged by teams like the Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons, to $100, charged by the New England Patriots. "If you can afford a ticket to an NFL game," Novick says, "you can afford to take this class."
Classes are divided into twelve chapters, with titles like "Communication Is King" and "The Cost of Alcohol Abuse in America." Class takers will be unable to doze through lessons. It is required to spend a certain amount of time on each page, and there are frequent pop quizzes. One question asks: "Which of the following is a specific assertive remedy to the harmful pattern of contempt? A. Give and take praise, B. accept responsibility, C. learn how to listen, or D. express feelings openly." A score of 70 percent is required to pass.
Often, while therapy may be useful in and of itself, it is also for a good cause. Proceeds above $55 are donated to charity. For every class taken, the Patriots donate $45 to the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, which promotes the use of designated drivers to lower fatalities related to drunk driving.
But enforcement of the policy may prove difficult. While season-ticket holders are pretty easy to track, it is harder to monitor who took the class if a fan buys a ticket from StubHub. However, if fans do manage to get back into a stadium after making their way onto some sort of a "Keep Out" list, they can be arrested for trespassing.
MLS also is involved with the therapy - because, if anything is more common than fights breaking out at football games, it's fights breaking out at soccer games.
The answer to the pop-quiz question is A, by the way.