The Washington Post Sunday
Foul words worse than foul play at FedEx Field
The anticipation built as I walked toward FedEx Field with my two boys, 7 and 10, on a beautiful fall Sunday last month, under blue skies and bright sunshine. That their first Washington Redskins game soon turned into a rout for the Atlanta Falcons was disappointing but did little to diminish their joy.
Those memories, however, will be tainted by something foul: the endless stream of expletives coming from multiple people in the stands behind us, in front of us and seemingly everywhere in between. It’s not that my kids hadn’t heard these words before, and in fact I warned them ahead of time that some people say bad words at NFL games. But the almost nonstop nature was still jarring, prompting numerous knowing looks and nervous smiles with my kids throughout the game. And you can be sure they told Mommy later that evening about the “many bad words” they heard.
You might think the Redskins, facing a well-documented drop in attendance, would be doing everything possible to create a welcoming environment for all ages. You also might think the NFL, a league that should be concerned about its future as the dangers of head injuries drive more young people from the game, would be doing everything possible to grow its next generation of fans. Instead, our experience was anything but kidfriendly.
That’s not to say paying customers don’t have the right to say what they want within reasonable social norms and even to curse from time to time. That is often the reality of adult conversation, and parents bringing kids to a sporting event do so at their own risk. But no child or family should have to endure four quarters of hearing every curse word, no matter how frustrating the product on the field might be.
After decades of dominating the local sports scene, the Redskins are now competing with perennial contenders in the Nationals and Stanley Cup champion Capitals. I can say from personal experience that while Nationals Park and Capital One Arena are not immune to issues with foul language, the situation at FedEx Field felt significantly worse. In fact, unlike the Redskins, the Nationals and Capitals seem to make a concerted effort to embrace families rather than drive them away.
Would I take my kids to another Redskins game? I would certainly think twice after our last experience, especially given all the comforts of watching the game at home. It wouldn’t surprise me if many other moms and dads felt the same.