Blogger’s First NFL Game
Snowpocalypse, snowmageddon, snowmygawd, bunch of snow, blizzard of 2009. Whatever you called it, whatever claustrophobia-inducing grocery store you visited, 22” of fluffy snow made itself known this past weekend in multitude and disruption. My Saturday afternoon plans consisted of: using my expiring Newseum passes (50% off the normal $20 entrance fee, otherwise known as discounted robbery); seeing the holiday exhibits at the Botanic Garden and Union Station; and shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market. Ambitious schedule, I know, which is why it was destined to fail. But I was not about to let my Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears football tickets on Sunday encumber the same fate. I was going to that game.
I got season-ticket holder seats through Stubhub as an early Christmas gift to JP, a rabid Bears fan. The tickets were marked up, of course, but affordable. We sat in the lower deck to the left behind a goal post. Great views, and we were fortuitously shielded from the remnants of snow falling from the upper decks. Someone (with a gifted arm) chucked a snowball from the upper deck and narrowly missed two referees on the field. JP reminded me of the Philadelphia Eagles incident where fans expressed discontent by pelting Santa Claus with ice balls. DC/Baltimore fans are much more dignified than that!
I credit the stadium staff with meticulously clearing the snow in time for the game. I guess they were expecting lots of no-shows (not the case in any way – my attempt to move forward a few rows was thwarted when the rightful seat owners appeared) and offered discounted concession stand items ($4 for french fries rather than $6 – woo hoo!) in gratitude.
It was both my first NFL game and first experience with die-hard local fans. I’m neither a Redskins fan nor a Ravens fan – I’m apathetic. I posed as a Redskins fan for a brief time in 1992 when they were actually decent and went to the Super Bowl. Selecting just the right gaudy Redskins Super Bowl t-shirt is one of my fondest childhood memories. Hasn’t happened again since. I do know that Redskins fans like to paint their faces; I didn’t see any painted faces in Baltimore. Maybe spectators feared they would need to chip it off like icicles later due to the sub-freezing temperatures.
Highways and exit ramps were clear and safe to travel on. The on-ramps, conversely, were a mess as there was a line of cars waiting for their turn to get stuck in snowy mush at practically every entrance.
(Message to DC/VA/MD Drivers: please, please clear your rear window, the car hood, and at least the driver’s side windows of debris. You’ve just spent the entire previous day sitting on your couch, watching Food Network, and eating frozen pizza because there’s nothing else to do, that surely you can summon enough energy to thoroughly clean your car and not just the dashboard. Sure it feels cool to play like you’re in a traveling igloo, but DC is technically still part of the South. Science (and common sense) says snow melts and things in motion tend to stay in motion. The flying snow endangers yourself, and most of all, it endangers me. Kthanxbye, Convince Me DC.)
Lines for the women’s restroom are ubiquitously disproportionately long compared to our lineless counterparts. Likewise, the security and ticket entrance lines were divided by gender, and were unbelievably disproportionately few in number for females. Of the 14 entrances at one gate, only 4 queues were for women. Though I was cheering for the opposing team and the female home team fans outnumbered me in line, we were all on par in irritation.
See the unfair number of male entry queues??
My inebriated, neighboring spectator was telling nobody in particular in the crowd about how tailgaters were playing homeless and lighting fires in the parking lot trash cans in order to stay warm. He was also wearing mascara in place of any winter weather gear, so his report is suspect.
Ravens fans are dedicated. They dress in all purple, the team’s color: purple wigs, purple camouflage pants, purple jerseys. JP and I donned Bears ski and Santa hats, along with shirts concealed below layers of coats and scarves. It was intimidating to enter an elevator or row of seats of all Ravens fans and hear silence fall, glares rise. Since the score ended in a 31-7 slaughter of the Bears, most in the crowd turned their taunts into encouragement. Things like, “it’s ok, it’s just not their season.” We, along with a slew of other defeated fans, left the stadium with 10 minutes to spare in the game.
It.was.cold. My feet thumped like square bricks on the walk back to the parking garage. You could have poked them with needles and I wouldn’t have felt a thing. As I said, DC is technically in the South, but with the weather this past weekend it could have been mistaken for Boston, Chicago, or New York.
I’ve now been a spectator at professional football, basketball, hockey, and soccer games in the District and environs. By no means am I sports fan, but I appreciate the sense of community that these events inspire. It’s rumored that Giro d’Italia, one of professional cycling’s biggest events, may come to DC during an opening stage in 2011. See you there – if DC can continue to convince me ‘til then!
Filed under: Baltimore, Seasons, Sports | 44 Comments