The NFL has finally put their foot down after years of watching players like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens party like its 1999 in the end zone.
The NFL has cracked down on taunting this season with the reinforcement of several rules that will essentially prohibit players from celebrating anywhere outside of the end zone—and even there their options are limited.
Good riddance! Why players felt compelled to taunt their NFL brethren in the first place is beyond me. Men have feelings. Just because some men are oversized juggernauts that get paid large sums of money to play a sport doesn’t make them inhuman.
Do they not bleed? Are they incapable of weeping like the rest of us!?
Bravo Commissioner Goodell. It’s good to know that amongst the plethora of problems facing the NFL at the moment—PED testing, player safety, concussion lawsuits, expanded seasons, etc.—that the league has still found time to address this very pressing issue.
The rule outlines what will be penalized, and includes “sack dances, home run swing, incredible hulk; spiking the ball; throwing or shoving the ball; pointing; pointing the ball; verbal taunting; military salute; standing over an opponent [prolonged and with provocation]; or dancing.”
Wait a tick, did it say dancing? Dancing, as in one of the few things left in the world synonymous with happiness?! Does that mean I may never see something like this again on a football field?
Well, not exactly. The rule actually prohibits players from doing any of the aforementioned celebrations towards an opponent. As such, players are free to celebrate within the confines of the rules so long as they’re not trying to antagonize the opposition.
It was just seven years ago that the league first banned props and group celebrations, as well as the “throat slash; machine-gun salute; sexually-suggestive gestures; prolonged gyrations; or stomping on a team logo.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t this rob the NFL of some much-needed entertainment and—dare I say it—fun?
“It’s bad for the game,” says football fan and bar hopper Alex Robershotte as he takes a break from the delicious Cheesestake and Sunday Night Football game ahead of him. “I think it’s a natural reaction to celebrate. If you succeed at what you’re trying to do, and you have to be held back from celebrating from that, I think that’s absolutely absurd. And when you’re an athlete who’s amped up on adrenaline, you’re gonna go all out in your celebrations.”
For shame. Are we forgetting about those most affected by the celebrations? Lest we forget that the NFL is not the WWE. Players get paid a lot of money to perform their duties to the best of their abilities and shouldn’t be subjected to such public humiliation as this when they get burned on a fly route:
On the other hand, maybe everyone should just chill the fuck out and put everything into perspective.
Football is an inherently emotional sport played by some of the most competitive athletes in the world. Naturally, they’re going to do whatever it takes to gain a competitive edge. That includes getting inside the head of their opponent.
Sack and touchdown celebrations add a layer of untapped entertainment to the league. Guys like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson were watched not only for their remarkable talent, but because you never knew exactly what they were going to do when they found the end zone. One thing you could always be assured of though was that it would be fun to watch.
The days of watching an NFL lineman breakdance, a quarterback moonwalk, or a wide receiver make untimely phone calls from beside the pylons are in the rear-view mirror now. All that’s left to look forward to is this:
“The rule is kind of ridiculous,” says San Francisco State student Jeff Palin. “I don’t think the celebrations were really hurting anyone. And I’m not sure why the league even felt that it needed to take action.”
The reasons behind the crackdowns are unclear. Perhaps the rule was instituted to protect the NFL image. Maybe its purpose is to keep angry players from inciting a brawl. It’s possible the league was fed up with diva wide receivers disrupting the flow of the game and shifting the focus from the competition to some over-the-top spectacle.
Maybe it was a combination of all three.
Regardless, fans are left wondering if the rules are even necessary.
“You don’t really see anything exciting anymore when someone scores a touchdown,” says San Francisco State student Andrew Newlee. “Some of those celebrations were hilarious. So yeah, I kind of miss them.”
At the end of the day, football—despite being a multi-billion dollar industry—is just a game. Someone ought to remind the Commish about that, because at the moment he’s robbing the league of some free and much-desired entertainment, and appears petty in the process.
For example during the preseason, the Jets third-string quarterback Matt Simms simulated that he was firing a pistol, and the NFL fined him $7,875 for the infraction.
For starters, how did the league come up with such a puzzling and specific fine; and secondly, did the crime really fit the punishment?
These rules are hurting the sport, and compelling fans to deem the NFL the No Fun League.
The celebrations are amusing. The only people they’re hurting are those being taunted. If they don’t like it, then they should get better at their jobs. Until then, they should bite their lip and set a good example for the kids watching.
I’m not advocating malicious taunting. Watching someone viciously sack a quarterback, stand over him and talk shit is never a welcomed sight. But something as simple and harmless as this (which was fined $10,000!) should never be penalized.
So think it over, Goodell. I know you care about the players (or at least that’s what you like to let on), but don’t go overboard here. Loosen up and just let everyone be themselves. Until then, here’s a little something for old time’s sake.
It’s a cloudy morning in San Francisco. Crowds of people gather towards China Basin. The World Champs, San Francisco Giants, have come back to AT&T ballpark.
The blue, red, and white Major League Baseball banners, annually displayed on every Opening Day, line the entrance to the ballpark. The smell of garlic fries and hot dogs cooking intoxicate the ballpark air. Enthusiastic Giants fans prepare themselves as they wait outside for the gates to open.
Out the four main gates, a couple of Giants fans anxiously wait outside of the Marina gate. The Miranda family, Marc, Jeanne and their son Marc Jr. along with fellow “Bleacher Bums” Alex Patino and Easley Wong, stand in line as they wait for the gates to open. Marc opens his bag and takes his glove out. Easley, also known as Eaz, already has his on. The security guards open the gates.
Marc Jr. and Eaz dash to the bleachers. They’re on a mission to catch as many fly balls as possible during batting practice. Marc stands on top of the bleachers and Eaz is close by.
While they’re trying to catch fly balls, the ballpark ushers greet them. They’re laughing and high-fiving each other like they’re friends.
Marc Jr. and Eaz, along with Marc Jr. parents, Jeanne and Marc Sr., and Alex are all part of an infamous group known as the Bleacher Bums. The Bleacher Bums are a group of twenty Giants fans that live and breathe black and orange all day.
They’re not your typical Giants fans. They’re loud and heckle the visiting team.They have their own Facebook page. On the page, their motto is “FUCK THE DODGERS AND EVERY OTHER TEAM EXCEPT THE GIANTS! LET’SS GOOOO”. Their religious views are bleachers. Their occupation is catching homerun baseballs. They shared some camera time on television when they catch home-run balls. But underneath the black and orange, the Bleacher Bums has grown as a family throughout the years at the ballpark.
From the Stick to China Basin
Before they formed the Bleacher Bums and took over section 139 at AT&T Park, they supported the Giants during the good old days back at Candlestick Park (referred to by locals as “The Stick”).
“I’ll be freezing my butt off at the Stick,” says Eaz describing what it was like sitting at the Stick. The old park is known as a wind tunnel. Before the game, most of them would bundle up with layers of jackets to keep themselves warm during the games.
When Marc Jr. was a child, his parents, Marc and Jeanne would take him to games at the Stick. They weren’t season ticket holders at the time.
“You don’t need season tickets at the Stick!” jokes Marc about attending games over there, commenting on how low ticket prices used to be.
They didn’t know each other until the Giants made the move to China Basin in 2000. The group began to form over at AT&T Park.
“Some of us met at the ballpark,” says Marc Jr. “As the season went on we gradually met and sat around each other in the bleachers.”
They sat in section 138 and 139 located in the left field. After getting to know each other and bonding together over their shared love for the two-time World Champs, they decided to come together and agreed to call themselves the Bleacher Bums.
“We all came up with the name,” say Marc Jr. about coming up with the game for the group.
They go to almost every game in the season. Some of the members, Marc Jr. has even skip school to go to the ballpark.
They travel from other parts of the Bay Area, like the East Bay, to come see the Giants games.
High up in the air and it is…GONE!!!
The sun is out and the clouds drifts away to make a clear blue sky. The Giants are done with batting practice, so it the visiting team comes out on to the field to practice. Marc Sr. stands on the bleachers as he looks up for any fly balls coming towards his direction. He raises his arm and covers his eye from the glare of the sunlight. He’s wearing sunglasses. Someone from the crowd yells “Here it comes” a group of people looks up at the sky. They hurdle into a pile. Marc jumps in the crowd. He stares up and lifts up his glove in the air. SMACK! The ball lands inside in his glove. The crowd cheers and gives him high-fives for his astonishing catch.
Before the game, the pre-game ritual is trying to catch baseballs during batting practice. The Bleacher Bums love to catch the fly balls during batting practice. In way it’s like a game, where they stand in the bleachers and their goal is to catch as many authentic baseballs. They usually stand up on top of the bleachers waiting for a fly ball to come toward them. As they wait for a ball to come to their direction, some of them socialize with each other and other Giants fans. Marc talks to random people and shakes hands with one the ballpark employees. They don’t like to talk much during the batting practice as they focus all their attention is on grabbing a souvenir.
“Its competition with other fans.” say Marc Jr. about the batting practice.
The Bleacher Bums main competition is the Giants fans in section 138. However, they don’t see it as competition.
Fellow Bleacher Bum Jeanne is the only female with baseball glove during the batting practice. She says they other fans in section 138 try to make it in contest but it’s all for fun.
When it comes to catching fly ball, some like Marc Jr and Eaz, use baseball gloves to get hold of a baseball.
“My glove is my contraption,” says Eaz when it comes to catching fly balls.
However, some, like Alex, are creative ways seize a baseball. Alex create “ball catchers”, instead of using the traditional glove. Alex made his with a helmet-shaped medal with orange jump straps. He has a glove but he uses his ball catcher to grasp balls lying on the “warning track”. He chases after a fly ball outside their bleacher, in section 140. He dashes to the area where a ball crashed. Sadly, he didn’t get a hold of it. It’s a trill activity, but a dangerous one.
“I got hit on the mouth with a ball,” says Jeanne. She has a small scar on her upper lip. She still participates, despite being smacked by the ball. She had to get thirty stitches on her mouth.
Batting practice isn’t the only time the Bleacher Bums go after fly balls. They also collect home-run baseballs. When someone hits one out of the ballpark, the balls either fly over the right field and hit the water, or go to the left field toward the bleachers, where they can be caught.
Between the fly balls and home-runs, it’s hard for them to keep track on how many baseballs they’ve collected over the years.
“I have a ton of shoe boxes filled with the baseballs,” says Eaz about his collection. Between home-runs balls and fly balls, it’s hard to keep track of how many baseballs that they’ve collected over the years.
There so many they can’t remember the total of baseballs.
No Bandwagon Fans Allowed!!
The Bleacher Bums are welcoming to fellow Giants fans. During the batting practice, they’re friendly and joke around, as long as you’re not a bandwagoner.
According to the Urban dictionary, a bandwagoner is someone “who claims to be a fan of a particular sports team even though they had no prior support/ interest in the team until the team starting winning.” So, if someone who claims to be a Giants fan and they followed them since 2010, they’re a band wagoner.
“I hate bandwagoners,” says Marc Jr. about bandwagoners, he goes on and says you tell who is a bandwagoner by the way they dress and expressions during the game. According to Marc Jr., a perfect example of bandwagoner is the games, like Opening Day and Dodgers, are the only ones.
“They don’t know anything about the Giants,” says Eaz, “They act like Giants fans but they’re not.”
The Bleacher Bums have stuck by the Giants through the ups and downs.
Time to hit the road with the Giants
When the Giants are on the road, the Bleacher Bums will follow them. Last year, the Bleacher Bums travel to the Windy City, Chicago, when the Giants played against the Chicago Cubs in the summer.
“It was great experience, says Marc Jr, “It was a nice stadium.”
They shared a few moments on the television when they’re spotted by the Giants broadcasters.
Besides Chicago, they took a trip to Anaheim when the Giants were up against the other LA team, the Angels.
Most of the time, they travel to southern California when the Giants play against the San Diego Padres and their rivals the Dodgers.
At Petco ballpark, there are more Giants fans than Padres fans as you watch on TV when the Giants are there, the seats are fill with people dress in orange and black. You may spot a group of Giants fans and about three Padres sitting next to each other.
“Petco pack is a poor man’s AT&T ballpark,” says Eaz as he describes the Padres ballpark. When they go to the games in San Diego, they tried to find seats so they can sit together.
The next huge trip for the Bleacher Bums is hitting the Big Apple. In September, they’re planning to go see the Giants as they face against the Mets and the most-anticipation game of the season, the Yankees.
Don’t diss the Home-Run King
Despite being accused of steroid use and battling in the courts, Barry Bonds is still the most beloved player who ever wore the black and orange uniform…to the Bleacher Bums.
“I love Barry Bonds,” says Marc Jr, who still wears his white jersey with the number 25 on the back. Marc Jr. loves the home-run slugger and follows him throughout his career. He has Bonds posses 746 home-run ball.
“I’ve been following him since I was a kid” Marc Jr. goes on about his favorite baseball of all time, “He use to sign autographs for me all the time.”
Despite Barry Bonds setbacks after he broke the record, including Bonds legal woes about the use of steroids, they still believe Bonds is one of the greatest players of all times.
“He’s one of the best players,” expresses Eaz about the home-run king who didn’t voted in this year’s Hall-Of-Fame ballots.
It’s been about five years since Barry Bonds broke the homerun record and was crowned the Home-Run King, Marc and the rest of the group still support the slugger.
Baseball bring people together
Since the Bleacher Bums have occupiedok section 139, it’s no surprise the ballpark employees know them. As the years pass, The Bleacher Bums has developed relationships with a few of the ballpark employees. As they talk to the Bleacher Bums before, during and after the game. The Bleacher Bums and ballpark employees are on a first name basis. During the batting practice, a few ballpark employees have come up to them and chat for while.
One former Giants employee says he meet the Bleacher Bums for a few years. The former employees “I saw them often at games,” says the former usher about meeting the group. He goes on and says, “along with the rest of the Bleacher Bums.”
While, there of the Bleacher Bums get along with the employees, some of the Bleacher Bums have got in trouble in the past. According to some of the Bleacher Bums, Alex was suspended for a few months after an altercation with an usher. But Alex says, in his defense, he kicked out for “being buff.”
What happens during the off season?
Hall-of-Famer Rodgers Hornsby said, “People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
However for the Bleacher Bums when it comes to the offseason, they stare at the TV and watch ESPN or MLB Network.
During thelong winter season, they keep track of what happen to their beloved Giants.
“We’ll post stuff on Facebook and talk about it,” say Eaz about the Giants made a huge trades or signs from a popular free agent.
As for the other teams, including the Dodgers, they could care less about “those bums” (referring to the Dodgers money making deals during the offseason) .
When baseball season ends, most of them hang out, but not as often. Most of the members live in different parts of the Bay Area. Sometimes the younger Bleacher Bums, like Marc and Alex go to Forty-Niners and Warriors games. Sometimes they play basketball together.
Some like Jeanne and Marc Sr. stay busy with their jobs during the off season. They work in a real estate business in the Bay Area.
Since the Giants open the new stadium in 2000, the Bleacher Bums have become more than a group, they become more like fun. Their love baseball and Giants has brought them together. They poke fun of each other.
The Bleacher Bums aren’t like other Giants fans. They’re passion for the Giants runs deep in their core. They take games serious like the Giants do. They stand by and support the Giants.
“We’ve been there so long as a group we just became great friends I think that’s what seperates us from other fans were a group of true fans” explains Marc Jr.
As times has change, players come and go, but the Bleacher Bums are here to stay.
It’s a beautiful Wednesday morning. The skies are crystal clear. The sun rays shine over the empty Oakland Coliseum.
There are still a few hours until the first pitch and only a few cars in the parking lot. A large group of people dressed in green and yellow shirts with “Galleo” written on the back gather around a table, laughing and engaging in casual chit-chat. The table is set with salad, chips and other snacks. Coolers overflow with ice-cold beverages, under the table. The majority of them is wearing green and yellow shirts. The Galleo Winery is having a company party, getting pumped up for the big game.
Several feet away is a couple, Fred and Kristin, sitting in the back of a black pickup truck with their friend Melissa, eating street tacos and drinking beer from a small cooler. Another couple, Salvatore and Lindsay, sit on lawn chairs, waiting for hot dogs to finish cooking on a small, portable barbeque.
Tailgating is a common “pre-game” pass-time for sports fans all over the world who are eager to cheer on their favorite team and enjoy some good grub.
“Tailgating with a group of friends is best way to save money,” says Ritchie.
Bay Area sports teams have been getting more attention this year than ever before, with the Giants winning two World Series’ in the past three years. The A’s defeating a drought and winning last year’s AL West division title, and the 49ers stealing a spot in the Super Bowl. The Raider’s roster may be under construction still, but they even have die-hard fans who will always have their back.
As for basketball, the Golden Gate Warriors are leaving their mark on the NBA, with rising young players like Stephen Curry, and by making an appearance in the playoffs for the first time since 2007. In the hockey world, the Sharks still continue to fight for the Stanley Cup.
As the popularity of these teams continues to rise, so do ticket and food prices, and sporting fans end up spending more money at the game than they did on entrance into the stadium. The average price of a beer is $10, nachos are $8 and even a water bottle costs $5. Are you a diehard Bay Area sports fan who refuses to spend extra cash on snacks? Here are a few pre-gaming tips that are sure to help you save some money.
Tailgate with fellow fans
For those who don’t know who don’t know, a tailgate party is when a group of fans gather together behind a truck or SUV and enjoy potluck style food and drinks before the big game.
“You can tell your friends to buy foods,” says Ritchie as he describes about dividing the food and drinks at the tailgate parties. “You don’t have to worry about buying food for a group of 12 people or more. You can ask people to bring their own food or drinks.”
“Tailgating before Raider games, you can bring a twelve pack of beer for $12 bucks instead of buying a one beer in the stadium,” says Jamey, a regular the SF State Pub, referring to when it comes to attending Raider games.
Bring your own food!
Before you go to the game, stop by your local grocery store and buy your own snacks. This is one of the best ways to save money, but what happens if you go to sporting venue and they don’t allow outside food into the stadium? The best solution is grubbing before the game.
Celebrating before the game
A lot of fans meet up at local eateries around the stadium, before the game. It doesn’t matter if its fast food, a cafe, or a sit-down restaurant- the chances of it still being less expensive than buying food at the game are great.
“When I go to Warriors games, I’ll go eat somewhere before” says Bryn, SFSU student, “I usually go to In-N-Out by the stadium.”
What about the booze? Sports venues make a profit on alcohol. It’s how they make the money. But it’s too expensive. The key is simple purchase a case of beer and split among your friends before the game. A great way to save money instead of buying drinks in the stadium.
“I usually buy six packs before I go to the games,” says Jamey about drinking before going to Giants games.
If you still think you might spend more money than you think you want to at the game, the best advice I can give you is to bring a set amount of cash with you. Take $40 with you and leave your credit card behind, that way you can’t just keep spending.
Take the train
It’s no surprise that parking in San Francisco or any other Bay Area city is a bitch. In San Francisco, the streets in the city are small and narrow, and jam-packed with pedestrians and other drivers. Paying for parking is another whole pain in the you-know-what. Before the new season of the Giants, the meters have gone up to $7 per hour and the cut off period went from 6p.m. to 10p.m.
The solution to saving money is to take Bart or Muni. The price for a Muni pass will cost $2 for adults, and Bart varies depending on where you are going, but is rarely over $8.
“I live in the Sunset (district) and I hop on the N line”, say Vinnie, when he goes to the Giants games.
Some Giants fans like, Bryn, take the ferry to the Giants. The ferry boats stop in front of the port walk. Bryn prefer to use the ferry then drive to the city. If you do, however, need to drive to a game, make sure you bring a group of friends with you who can split the parking fee. Ritchie and his friends carpool to Raider’s games and say it is a lot cheaper to split the cost of a spot.
“Carpool and pitch in for parking,” says Ritchie, “it saves us money.”
Go for the Nosebleed Section
It’s always nice to get tickets with a great view, or to have the chance to sit closer to your favorite team when you want to get a closer look at the players, however, these tickets can be very pricey. Most of the good seats, like lower box seats, can cost $60 or more. If you’re just desperate to get to the game, but don’t have a lot of money, try out the nosebleed section! All of the seats are designed for the audience to be able to see the game. Just because you don’t have the “top” seat, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the action.
The trumpets announce the start of the races as people file through the turnstiles into the massive stadium. Lines gather at the betting windows as young and old alike fidget with their money, eager to place their first bet and win. Matt Lagerstrom checks his program booklet, glances at the television monitor above, scribbles some quick notes on a small piece of paper, and hands his money to the teller.
“I’m betting three bones on ‘Fist Pump’ and ‘Stormy Kentucky,’ the two and the four horse,” says Lagerstrom, 29. “Quinella bet, so those horses need to come in first and second in any order.”
“It’s my church on Sunday,” he says. “This is where I come to pray.”
Coincidentally, it’s a popular Sunday event. Sunday is Dollar Day, the one day when the entrance fee, beers, and hot dogs are all one dollar. After he fetches another beer, Lagerstrom begins to plan his bet for the next race. With nine races that day, he’s hoping to win all of them or, at the very least, win enough to get a couple more beers. He’s already won the first race. Continue reading For the Love of the Game→
In what was proving to be a game for the ages, regulation would not be enough time to determine the outcome of the battle between two fiercely determined foes. The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants were locked in a tight defensive battle, momentum seemingly switching every other play. Miscues had been the story of the game at this point, costly mistakes keeping San Francisco from putting the game away long ago. Dropped passes, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball had plagued them throughout. It was mental errors, however, that had proved the most damaging. A mind-numbing gaffe by special teamer Kyle Williams had gifted the Giants an opportunity to get right back into the game. And get back in the game is exactly what they did. New York tied the contest and sent the game into a sudden death situation.
The tension that built during the overtime period set the tone for the rest of the night. Though the first four periods had been back and forth, the emotional swings now had been escalated even more. The defenses were reigning supreme and the offenses had completely stalled. In a game where the first team to score would win, neither could muster any sort of rally. It would take some sort of divine intervention for one squad to breakthrough. And that intervention came, in the cruelest form of déjà vu imaginable. For one player, the infamy that would result from the aftermath would be catastrophic.
The 49er’s exhausted defense had made one last stop. A key hold deep in the Giants territory that would force the road team to kick the ball away and concede good field position to San Francisco, a precious commodity at this juncture. The home crowd anxiously awaited the punt, preparing themselves for the jubilation that would result from what they believed to be their ticket to the Super Bowl. The ball was snapped, the kick went up, and was received by none other than Kyle Williams, desperate for a chance at redemption. His heart, however, was too big for his own good, visions of grandeur clouding his judgment.In an attempt to undo his previous wrong, Williams had forgotten the cardinal rule of football: ball security. The tortured star charged right into the teeth of the Giants coverage, fueled by his desire to be emancipated from his status of the goat. He merely succeeded in burying himself deeper.He was ambushed by Giants special teamer Jacquian and once again relinquished the ball to his foes, a crucial strip that would completely alter the course of the game. This miscue had gifted them the victory, the ball already in scoring range during a time where the first to score would win. The euphoria 49er fans had been experiencing prior to the fumble was quickly replaced with confusion – not quite being able to comprehend the turn events that had just occurred.
They watched in hopeless anticipation as the New York offense prepared for the crushing blow. As the comprehension set in, fans told themselves not all was lost, that the kick was not a sure thing, that a blocked kick was still a possibility. None of them actually believed it. They knew deep down that their season was over, stolen from them in an unacceptable manner. There was nothing they could do about it. The kick went up and through the uprights, closure finally coming to the game they had already known was lost. For a fan base as passionate as this one, there would be no quick fix. They were about to embark on an emotional roller-coaster of epic proportions.