Bag Policies

When I was growing up, as I’ve mentioned before, my dad used to take us to sporting events on a regular basis.

None of us were really that “baggage heavy” at the time – I was 6 or 7 when my dad took me to my first pro basketball game, and by the time we were going regularly to sporting events, I had to be in my teens (meaning all of my sibs were mid-elementary school or later).

We have taken the Monster and R to sporting events, at the top professional level, minor league and collegiate.  Going to a sporting event with children can be a major pain in the ass, but it’s one of those things that you kind of suck up and cope with when you’re a parent.  In our case, it means taking along a fairly decent sized diaper bag, since both the Monster and R are usually wearing disposables when we’re going to be out all afternoon.  (Well, always for R – he’s only 19 months, after all – but usually for the Monster as well.)  4 changes of disposables for each, wipes, a changing pad, spare clothes… this all takes up a lot of space. We can fit into the smaller red bag we have, but for long outings, I prefer the ugly brown massive thing that we got when the Monster was a baby.

The NFL rolled out a new bag policy this fall and the Ravens are tweeting about it before the first home pre-season game on Thursday night – and their policy is almost literally “no bags”.  You’re allowed a clutch-sized purse if you’re a woman, and a 12″ x 6″ x 12″ clear bag (or a gallon-sized freezer bag) per person otherwise.  If you read the NFL’s page on it, diaper bags are not permitted, explicitly:

What about diaper bags?
Diapers can be carried in a clear bag. Each member of a family, including children, would be allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the stadium. That is a quite a bit of storage capacity.

Also, what I’m not posting here – there is an exception for mandatory medical equipment that can’t fit, but a diaper bag is not mandatory medical equipment by anyone’s imagination (even mine).  As a comparison – when we go to Orioles Park next door, we can take the diaper bag in.  We don’t get wanded, and we don’t get frisked.  Hell, we can even bring in outside food at Orioles Park and the kids’ drinking cups (but no outside alcohol is permitted).

Setting aside that I’ve yet to try to see if I can fit a bunch of pull-ups, his wipes case, a changing pad, and two spare sets of pants (because what child doesn’t have accidents, and a return to the car to get spares is impossible) in a bag that size but this seems… a little excessive.  Of course, according to them, I could just bring multiple bags… which says to me also that few, if any, of the brainiacs behind this policy have small children that they have to wrangle in addition to those multiple bags.  (If you want something truly funny – their video on the All Clear page shows a dad with a kid in a Bjorn-like thing.  Though, props to them for at least showing it’s the dad with the kid in the Bjorn.)

This ignores the fact that I’d have to find clear plastic/PVC bags of these dimensions – which, as you see on the page, they’ll happily sell me at $10-20 a pop plus shipping – or fit anything into gallon-sized freezer bags, one per person.

Of course, I’m not likely to try to take R to a football game – I know better, especially after trying to keep him ‘entertained’ at minor league baseball games, than to think he’d be fine at a 3-4 hour football game.  On the other hand… I have previously considered taking the Monster for a preseason game.  The Monster likes football – he likes yelling during it, he likes the running around and the throwing, and he’s fine with the noise at public events.  With this new rule, though, it’s going to discourage a lot of us who are in this boat from attending games, and it’s clear the NFL doesn’t care.

When I went to a game last season, the security was already tighter than when I have to go through the TSA at the airport.  I was frisked and wanded before being allowed to go in.  I have to imagine that there has to be a way that they could have a ‘family’ line to allow through diaper bags with a reasonable search (ie, if you don’t have a small child with you, you shouldn’t be allowed to bring a diaper bag in, but if you need to, there’ll be a dedicated line with a thorough search to ensure you’re not smuggling anything in) and not be so draconian… and I really feel for the Ravens and the other teams for being made to do this.


Something on the side – so I tweeted my displeasure with this policy using my regular account, when the Ravens started tweeting.  I received one tweet from someone who told me that “you shouldn’t take babies to football games”.  When I clarified the issue – that my 5 1/2 year old son isn’t toilet-trained and has Autism – the response changed to “maybe you ought to learn to hire a sitter and leave your kid at home” (a sentiment that was echoed by a few more).  My child should, apparently, be not seen and not heard because of his issues due to Autism.

Nice, folks.  Classy NFL fans as always.

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