Last weekend, the NASCAR Nation invaded Kansas Speedway. On the Sunday of the race, I spent the day at the track--in the garage area, the pits, watching driver introductions and in the grandstand during the race. Not once--not once--did I hear that word so many seem to love which begins with "f." And, I did not once hear a curse word spoken from one fan to another--in fact, the only time I saw a fan perturbed was when I was standing in front of her place at driver introductions...the place she had secured an hour earlier in order to see her favorites.
Contrast that behavior with today's game at Arrowhead Stadium. In section 218, we had a populace of beer swilling, Jack and Coke drinking, "motherf-----'" using, "Cowboys suck" yelling and cheerleader learing boors who totally destroyed what was intended to be an enjoyable afternoon in 30 degree temps watching the Chiefs (in Dallas Texans gear) and Cowboys do battle. As I sat there in front of the guys who seemed to have a vocabulary of only words with four letters and behind the Dallas fan who was egging them on, I thought "how sad."
I don't know why this behavior is prevalent in a professional sports stadium and I wonder what it must be like in Philadelphia or New York or Washington, given that Kansas City's fans at Arrowhead have long been lauded as being some of the nicest by NFL and television network officials. If what I experienced today was "nice," I'd hate to see problem behavior. (And, to provide context, today was my first visit to Arrowhead in three years--I quit going then because of the very behavior I experienced today.)
What makes NASCAR seem different? The whole vibe of the day is different--from the open nature of what fans can experience to the way the drivers treat the fans to the prayer and solemnity beforehand to the prevalent displays of patriotism. Yes, beer is served at the track but going to the race to get trashed does not seem to be the mission as it is for many who go to an NFL game.
Whatever the reasons, attending an NFL game these days is not for the faint of heart or for those easily offended by profanity and vile behavior. The National Football League and NASCAR are the two pre-eminent sports properties today in the U.S. Attending an event in each sport, though, is a very differente experience.