Kansas City continues to process the shock of the most recent Arrowhead tragedy – the homicide of Kyle Van Winkle. For reasons that continue to be investigated, Van Winkle wandered out into the parking lot during last Sunday’s game and ended up in the wrong car. Allegedly a fist fight happened and Van Winkle ended up dying from his injuries.
As the city continues to deal with this tragedy, the talk among the town is that Arrowhead is not “family friendly”.
I was listening to talk radio after the tragedy and I heard things like this-
“Fist fights break out all the time.”
“People yell obscenities and I wouldn’t take my child there.”
“People fall down drunk at the stadium. It isn’t an appropriate place for kids.”
I’m not a sports blogger. Trust me…there are WAY more qualified people to write about sports. I’m a sports fan and this year a Chiefs fan like so many in Kansas City. I wear red on Friday and gather with friends on Sunday to watch the games. Full disclosure – I haven’t been to a game in a number of years basically because of cost.
I will admit the last time I went to a game a few years ago, I got into it with a few drunk fans. They were yelling homophobic slurs at the players. I told them to knock it off. It wasn’t because I was with my child. In fact, I didn’t see any children around the two drunks. I did it because it was the right thing to do. Was I afraid to speak up? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.
I can’t accept that professional sporting events aren’t appropriate places for children. Ask any child who their heroes are and you will probably hear the names of quarterbacks, running backs and other players. To hear that children can’t go and feel safe at Arrowhead because of drunk adults is unacceptable to me.
I’m no prude and love a good beer with my football games. I’m not naive enough to think that alcohol sales will ever be prohibited at a stadium. There is too much money in it all.
So what can we do to claim our stadium again for our children and our city?
Here are my thoughts and please share yours…
1. Tailgating is an important part of the Kansas City football experience. I have heard of people going to the game and tailgating without a ticket to the game. I checked out the Kansas City Chiefs website and there is no mention of not being able to tailgate without a ticket to the game. So…quick fix, no ticket no tailgating. It’s the way you can be sure of crowd control.
2. Allow the crowd to own the crowd behavior. What do I mean? Look at flying…people drink when they fly. There are numerous stories of drunk passengers getting out of control on flights. So look to the sky for the solution – many times the crowd takes it upon themselves to restrain an unruly passenger. Why? Because it is a safety risk. People want to feel safe in the sky. The same could be said for a football stadium. Out of control fan? The crowd needs to get involved and restrain the fan until police can arrive.
3. Increase law enforcement. If fights are breaking out in and outside of Arrowhead, get more police involved. Yes it will cost the city money, but its money well spent if it means that Arrowhead is a safe place to take our children.
4. Have random check points on the way out of the stadium to check for drunk drivers. We do it on New Years so why not on Sundays? I’m sure the incidences of out of control drinking will decrease if people knew they would have a breathalyzer test before they leave.
5. Have more kid friendly events at the stadium. Look to Arrowhead’s neighbor Kaufman stadium for how to do a stadium “kid-friendly”.
6. Have a no tolerance policy for swearing. Yes, this would be hard for even me, but I would hold my tongue for a positive stadium experience. There are many ways to cheer on your team besides yelling obscenities. If a fan is out of control, security tosses them out.
Saying Arrowhead isn’t “kid-friendly” is unacceptable to me and should be for other parents as well. Lets take back our stadium and force the crowd to be more sportsmanlike. We have a great team this year and more people are cheering on their victories. Lets show the nation that Arrowhead is family friendly and be sure that our children can go and safely see their heroes play.
My condolences to the Van Winkle family. From what I understand it was a misunderstanding that went terribly wrong.