The NFL says it is simply trying to be safe.
The new stadium bag policy the league announced this week -- which essentially prohibits fans from bringing any bag larger than a clear, gallon zip-top bag or a women's small clutch "approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap" is designed to enhance safety and, in the NFL's words, " speed the security screening process for all NFL fans. .... This is about both safety and improving the overall fan experience."
Backpacks, seat cushions and regular-size purses will no longer be allowed. No pressure cooker bombs in a backpack coming to an NFL stadium near you. And that's good.
But here's one problem: Fans aren't buying it. Not at all. (Not sure how prohibiting seat cushions makes for a better fan experience.) Women, in particular, aren't happy about the purse restriction, and many fans see this as yet another inconvenience folded under the broad umbrella of "security."
Melissa Jacobs of TheFootballGirl.com, wrote that, "By asking women to leave their purses at home – and based on the restrictions, I mean asking every woman to leave her purse at home – the league is disconnecting from a fan base they are supposedly working so hard to expand.
"The usual collection of purse items like wallets, makeup, brushes, phones, and if we’re being honest, certain monthly products are mostly going to have to find another home for women attending games," she continues. "The league is certainly well aware of the importance of carrying a bag to a women; that’s why they’ve been selling team-logoed purses at stadiums and NFLShop.com for years."
On the Ravens official website, a poster known as lsw wrote, "So, after spending over $50 on a Ravens purse on NFL.com, I can't bring it to the stadium? Ridiculous!"
As soon as the policy was announced, the league also made clear that -- lo and behold -- approved, sanctioned, stamped-and-certified clear logo bags would be for sale at NFL.com. So to many, this has the markings of a blatant money grab.
The notion that this will create efficient, rapid security lines remains highly questionable. It's almost a given that the policy will lead to some slow traffic at gates as fans' disallowed bags are confiscated, or a discussion ensues. And what are fans supposed to do on a 15-degree day in Chicago in December? Are they allowed to bring blankets? Gloves? Heavy coats? As of now, yes. Well, so much for the short, quick searches at the point of entry.
"Security is necessary inconvenience, provided it’s making fans safer," wrote Chris Chase on USA Today.com. "Sometimes security is more about the illusion of safety, but banning purses doesn’t fit, nor will it make security lines move discernibly faster."
The NFL has ostensibly been worried in recent years about upgrading the fan experience at the stadium. It is keenly aware that high-definition television, rising ticket prices and at times obscene parking prices has more and more fans sitting at home. This decision isn't going to help get more fans in the seats, that's for sure.
Here's one way the NFL could score a few PR points, though: Teams should give away the approved logo tote bags at all preseason games. That way, this policy doesn't look like a blatant cash grab, and fans attending these meaningless games at least get something for that full-price ticket the league made them buy.