Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Actually, it isn’t.

Tim Kawakami, Gwen Knapp, and Scott Ostler have all written reaction pieces to the violence at the 49ers-Raiders game at the ‘Stick on Saturday night. They and national writers are waxing societal on the incident, yet they are all missing the forest for the trees in their analyses. It really all comes down to two things:

  • It was a Raiders-49ers game.
  • The game was played on Saturday night.

When the Raiders came back to Oakland, there would be occasional warnings about behavior and violence for Sunday or Monday night games, especially if they were “Broncos” or “Chiefs” week. Those 5 PM starts allow for full daydrinking sessions (which are hard work), which can lead to an unstable atmosphere once people are allowed into the stadium. A fully marinated jerk who can’t hold his liquor may be friendlier or more hostile. Everyone’s different. For Sunday and Monday night games, a guy has to think about the next day’s work. In my youth I’ve gone into work with a hangover a few times, but at least I had to consider the potential consequences. Usually it meant I held back on that extra beer or shot, and that was enough. Not everyone is going to have the conscience kick in at the right moment. Still, having that lingering in the back of one’s mind helps a lot of people.

By putting the game on Saturday night, the teams and the NFL gave the jerks carte blanche to act however they pleased. A full day of tailgating or partying (one assailant may have come on a party bus) with no consequences to think about for the next day is exactly the kind of atmosphere needed to set off what occurred at the ‘Stick. Maybe there was a gang-related factor. Or maybe it’s because both teams are mediocre. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt in my mind that a few assholes having a few extra beverages turned an already tense (even though it shouldn’t be) game into a powderkeg.

In the Midwest and on the East Coast, this problem doesn’t occur nearly as often. It could be because they can hold their liquor better. I’d like to think it has to do with the start times of the games. We are so used to 10 AM and 1 PM starts here that a 5 PM (or later) start is too much for the system to take. In Chicago or Dallas, the late game means a 3 PM start. In Philadelphia or New York, SNF/MNF starts after 8 PM locally. They’re used to it. They pace themselves. We in the Bay Area may have access to some of the greatest beer and wine on the face of the earth, but we sure can’t handle it correctly if this incident is any indicator.

Because of the actions a few there’s a good chance that the NFL, in its reactionary turn towards safety this season, will disallow future 49er-Raider preseason games. Why risk another PR nightmare? However, they can’t stop the two teams from playing each other once every four years during the regular season. They might be able to put in metal detectors in at the stadium gates, but they’re not going to be able to search every car for weapons. Police state measures are impractical, especially at the emergency management nightmare that is Candlestick Point (poor access).

Now let’s assume that the 49ers and Raiders share a Santa Clara stadium. This incident will only confirm misgivings by many locals in the immediate area – especially about Raiders fans even though it may be unfair. It’s likely that the tailgating scene will be limited due to a lack of space and facilities. That won’t stop an incident from occurring at the Bennigan’s down the road from the stadium, where idiots in party buses could come into conflict. A 1 PM start just might rein things in enough that the potential for a conflict is significantly less. The crazy thing to me is that both teams’ management should have seen this coming a mile away and didn’t adjust accordingly. Did they schedule the 5 PM start just to sell as many tickets as possible for a preseason game? The place was half-full. Whatever the motivation, both teams and the league have a lot of explaining to do, have had plenty of precedent to plan accordingly. No amount of defending fans against stereotyping is going to help. It happened. Fix it or it will happen again, and much sooner than can be imagined.

26 thoughts on “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

  1. NFL games: $100 tickets, $30 parking, $10 beers and violence in the stands. Saturday’s game was an advertisement for staying home and watching the game on TV.

  2. looks as the niners-raiders annual preseason game will be cancelled. few rotten apples spoils the whole bunch.

  3. Then why arn’t they cancelling all the Giants-Dodgers games?

  4. Next on the History channel: Gang Wars @The Stick!

  5. Many 9er season ticket holders passed on the game, fearing just this. That’s why the stands were only about half full like ML stated. There’s a big difference between football and baseball fans and alcohol just compounds the situation. The G’s/A’s rivalry is downright polite. Two mellow groups overall and very few props over the years. The Dodger/Giant thing goes back to their NY days and can get pretty intense. Too much money at stake to be cancelled. I’d pass on those maybe if i was a fan of either. I don’t really like that type of atmosphere, and all these fights and drama just ruin it for me and my family. People posting the fights on Youtube get all excited about catching it on video, giving you the play-by-play…lol.. Knuckleheads too.

  6. Well that and many Giants fans have at least a passing interest in the A’s. Hell quite a few A’s fans, much to my disgust, were even pulling for the Giants during the postseason last year. You just don’t see that between the Niners and Raiders fans. You’re either a fan of one or a fan of the other. There is little middle ground.

  7. …so the only NFL exhibition game worth watching in the Bay Area, if not in the entire league, is gone. Well, there’s still the Jets-Giants.

  8. Yup, agreed Dan. I remember seeing the R’s when they first came back to Oakland and they were showing 49er highlights on Diamond Vision. This one idiot sitting near us was going nuts, cussing up a storm over the highlights. “%^(+)*@!?#* you Steve Young, you suck!!!!! ” My wife was wondering what this guy’s problem was. Some good natured booing is okay, but acting like a total jackass is just nuts. As for the fights, they need to really crack down hard. Your season tix should be forfeited with a full refund, and be banned from the stadium for 5 years.

  9. Seems like such a horrible knee-jerk reaction.

  10. Gangbangers are becoming a huge problem in this state. I doubt the idiots who did this crap are truly fans of the Raiders or 49ers. They just wanted to claim a rallying point and get violent.

  11. A few bad apples ruin it for everyone. If the bad apples weren’t there at the game, we all can have a good time. 5 years may be a little harsh, maybe 2 years, but I’m so sick of this. Too much frickin violence in our society, and you can’t even watch a game in peace.

  12. Perhaps alcohol (beer) sales should be shut down after halftime. That would give marinated jerks (I like that RM) either two quarters to sober up (somewhat) or two quarters to sleep (pass out). Probably wont happen; to much revenue at stake. We regular fan are doomed!

  13. Tony, the more effective solution would be to ban alcohol at in the parking lot altogether. The issue is less drinking inside than it is these idiot marinating in beer and hard A all day and THEN going in the stadium already extremely polluted. The fact fights started so early in the day is evidence of that.

  14. I was there on Saturday and I counted 4 fistfights in the surrounding area (not the main one circulating on youtube). I also saw no less than a dozen verbal altercations that were very heated and could have easily turned into brawls. I’m a longtime, non-thug Raider fan and I don’t go to the games anymore unless I’m sitting in the club. Prior to moving to LA the Raiders had a blue-collar reputation but not this gang-thug thing that’s been around for a long while now. However, I was completely surprised at the gang-thug mentality permeating at Candlestick. The last time I was there was probably 5 or 6 years ago and it was sort of tame, although not the wine-cheese crowd of yore. I wore my Raider jacket and didn’t have a problem. This time I chose to wear neutral colors and I’m glad I did because it seemed like thug heaven there on both sides. By the way, 2 of the 4 fights I saw were between Niner fans themselves. Unbelievable.

  15. Pingback: Candlestick Park violence was caused by two things » Bay Area Sports Guy

  16. With the 49ers not being as successful in past years, more tickets are available to the general public as the “wine and cheese” crowd has reduced since 2002, the last 49ers playoff season.

    Before that, the 49ers season ticket list was so long and the tix themselves out priced a lot of people.

    Now with all the losing and the crappy stadium compounding the problem the fans at 49ers games are more “gang related” in this day and age.

    For example, I went to the Eagles-49ers Sunday night game last year. I have been to several 49ers games over the years and several fights broke out there too in the stadium. Some between 49ers fans themselves…unreal.

    Walking around the stadium it was astonishing how many people were wearing their hats sideways, with tattoos, and people in general talking “shit” to each other.

    This problem plus what ML pointed out about the game being on a Saturday night did not help in the least bit.

    These two teams have played in the pre-season for years and nothing ever happened. Even in the regular season.

    I would love to blame Raiders fans but I blame 49ers fans for this one…..For the first time I am ashamed to be a 49ers fan as to have this happen at our place is flat out disgraceful.

  17. I agree with most of ML’s comments (except the notion that this kind of thing doesn’t happen as often on the East Coast). But one major overlooked factor: Cheap tickets. For pre-season games, tickets can typically be picked up for $5 or $10, which helps bring in a lot of thuggy non-football fans just looking for a place to drink hard.
    Same factor applies at Raider games generally. I was a season ticket holder for fifteen years, starting in ’95. For many years the crowds were fine, and I’d tell people the bad image of the Coli was overblown (no worse than a Jets or Eagles game, for sure). Over the first ten years or so, I saw only a handful of fights, usually far in the distance, and generally in the upper deck (where I also sat for a number of years).
    Over the next five years or so however, as the Raiders futility streak dragged on and the Coli continued to deteriorate, the situation got worse. Aftermarket ticket prices came way down, and the quality of the crowd got noticeably worse even in the expensive sections of the stadium. Suddenly, I was seeing fights in my section, or people vomiting. (It’s actually impressive to watch Coli staff deal with this: A fully-equipped clean-up team appears within minutes. Which tells you it’s not a rare occurrence). It wasn’t the only reason I gave up my season tickets, but it was certainly a factor.
    It will be a shame if this incident impacts the chance of the Raiders and Niners sharing a building. For one thing, it wouldn’t bring the two fan bases together any more often than if they continued to play in separate buildings. For another, although I hate to sound elitist by saying it, the uplift it gives ticket prices will improve fan behavior the same way it has in New England, New York and Philly.

  18. A few years ago the NFL actually scheduled a game for New Year’s Eve at the Coliseum. I remember thinking at the time, “What the hell are they thinking, are they out of their minds?” I went to the game with some trepidation. But as it turned out, the Raiders were so pathetic and so far out of contention that year, the game had no buzz and only the true fans showed up. It was sparsely attended, and there were no problems that I know of.

  19. All I know is that you couldn’t pay me to go to any NFL game and much less, take my wife and two (soon to be three) daughters to anything related to an NFL game. It was pretty sad to see the video and not just the fighting that occurred, but what was pretty alarming was the reaction of the people watching. It’s as if they completely forgot to be human. I am going to see my alma mater Fresno State play Cal in two weeks. I know a college crowd is nothing like an NFL crowd, and I know there is no rivalry between the ‘Dogs and the Bears. But I’d be lying if I said that a 4 o’clock start at the ‘Stick didn’t make me feel a little bit uncomfortable. It’s not the drinking inside the game that’s the concern, too expensive, and there is none for Bears games. It’s the hard liquor and 18 packs in the parking lot that bothers me. NFL for me is done, I will stick to the A’s, as well as college, Warriors and the Quakes.

  20. “(It’s actually impressive to watch Coli staff deal with this: A fully-equipped clean-up team appears within minutes. Which tells you it’s not a rare occurrence). It wasn’t the only reason I gave up my season tickets, but it was certainly a factor.”

    Yeah, I’ve seen that multiple times.

  21. Yeah if anything the slow response from the Niner’s security highlights why this isn’t common for their games. Niners games always have a few incidents, but nothing their typical level of security can’t handle. On the other hand, the aberration that was Saturday’s game shows that it’s just not a typical level of fan violence for a Niners game. Security was completely over matched unlike say a typical Raiders game at the Coliseum.

  22. Wow the Niners aren’t screwing around. The game has been officially canceled for at least the 2012 preseason. Additionally Candlestick has now banned any tailgating after kickoff. Additionally the SFPD will be setting up DUI checkpoints at the major exits to the parking lots. Once again a few scum have ruined it for everyone.

  23. More evidence has come to light. Appears the guy shot 4 times was a Niners fan after all, not wearing the “Eff” the 49ers shirt that was originally reported. He and his buddy were jumped by Raiders fans and then he was shot by one. So the cliche assumption most of us jumped to at the beginning that it was a Raiders fan who shot a Niners fan turned out to be the truth.

  24. @Dan I was actually talking about the speed with which they deal with public vomiting at the Coli, not fights. They have little walkie talkie things, and get a team over with some kind of kitty litter stuff to soak it up, mops, buckets, etc. It’s impressive but a little discomfiting how they’ve got it down to a science.
    Really, it’s disgraceful. Anyone over the age of 20 should know their limits well enough that they can at least make it to a toilet. There’s a time and a place where you can (almost) excuse someone for not knowing their limits, and that’s freshman year of college.

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