The NFL's Fan Code of Conduct Memo
As previously mentioned, the whole NFL Code of Conduct story really blew up while I was in China, and I didn't get to play any role. But, via a league source, I do have a copy of the memo sent from Commissioner Roger Goodell to the clubs' team presidents and chief executives this June, which, with the FedEx Field home opener on the horizon, might make for some interesting reading.
To me, the most notable thing here is the NFL mandate for each team to enter accurate reports of fan conduct violations into a standardized template all season long. I can only hope that the NFL will tell us which team had the most violators on a weekly and yearly basis. That would be a real traffic mover for NFL.com Memo highlights follow:
As a general matter, these measures are designed further to deter and remedy fan
behavior, in both stadiums and parking lots, that violates Club or stadium rules, endangers or threatens others, or is otherwise inappropriate for a spectator attending a professional sporting event. These measures are intended to build on the outstanding efforts already undertaken by certain Clubs.
More specifically, for the 2008 season, each Club must take the following three steps to
support our collective efforts to address and deter inappropriate fan conduct:
1) Identify a senior person within the Club's organization with primary responsibility for fan conduct matters. This will streamline communication and increase accountability at the operational level. Among other things, this individual will be responsible for knowing what goes on in the area of fan conduct in and around your stadium and parking lots on game day. It is imperative that this individual receive ongoing support from the highest levels
of your organization;
2) Maintain accurate records of all fan conduct violations on game day, based on a
standardized reporting template, which will be provided by mid-July. This will identify key
information and allow us to have reliable and accurate measures of fan conduct across the League. This database will help us to make better decisions about the kinds of interventions that may be needed, as well as the effectiveness of programs already in place, or that are introduced in the future; and
3) Adopt and aggressively publicize a Fan Code of Conduct designed to set fan
expectations and encourage a stadium environment enjoyable for all fans. This Fan Code of Conduct will be effective throughout the 2008 season. In support of existing Club efforts in this regard, we have developed certain standard provisions that must be incorporated by each Club into its own Fan Code of Conduct. A copy of these mandatory provisions is attached. Clubs are free to add additional provisions to their individual Fan Code of Conduct based on their individual circumstances and/or preferences, but those additional provisions must not be inconsistent with the standard provisions. All Clubs are expected to aggressively publicize their Fan Code of Conduct throughout the 2008 season. Some suggested ways of doing so are as follows:
Press Releases. Each Club should issue a statement to local media reaffirming its commitment to a stadium environment that is enjoyable and safe, and specifically referencing the Club's Fan Code of Conduct.
Game Day Video/Audio Stadium Announcements. Game day announcements should be made on the video board and the public address system specifically referencing the Fan Code of Conduct, reminding fans of the importance of not interfering with others' enjoyment of the game, and reinforcing that unruly behavior may subject the offender to immediate ejection, revocation of season tickets, and criminal prosecution. Consider including a personal appeal from coaches, players or other celebrities as part of these announcements. At least two such announcements should be made - within 15 minutes before kick-off and at the end of the third quarter. A standard form of such an announcement is attached and may be used as is or edited by the individual Club as appropriate.
Postings in and Around the Stadium. Clubs should prominently post their Fan Code of Conduct at all concession stands and in other high traffic areas in the stadium, as well as in those sections of the stadium parking lot where "tailgating" frequently occurs. In addition, such postings should alert fans how to report offenders to stadium security in order to obtain prompt resolution of incidents of misconduct. A draft of such a poster is attached.
Postings on Club Websites. Clubs should prominently post their Fan Code of Conduct on their websites.
Communications with Season Ticket Holders. Regular mailings to season ticket holders should include a copy of the Club's Fan Code of Conduct, and should advise that season tickets will be revoked for repeat or serious violations, regardless of who uses the tickets. A copy of the Club's Fan Code of Conduct should also be sent to all season ticket holders via email.
Postseason Ticket Mailings. Clubs in playoff contention must include in their postseason ticket mailings a copy of their Fan Code of Conduct and should also include a warning that even first offenders may be penalized.
In addition to the specific measures addressed above, each Club should consider adopting one or more of the following practices, which are currently in use and have been found to be beneficial by one or more Clubs:
Undertake heavy and well-publicized preseason enforcement in the stadium and parking
lot to set the tone for the regular season.
Revoke future ticket privileges from season ticket holders who engage in, or who provide
their tickets to others who engage in egregious or repeated violations of your Club's Fan
Conduct Policy. Clubs should aggressively publicize both this policy and any related
ticket revocations as a deterrent to future violations of the Fan Conduct Policy.
Fan Experience Advisory Group
Form a committee consisting of Club executives and possibly other key stakeholders
(e.g., stadium operators, security personnel, fan representatives) to review the fan
experience on game day, as well as Fan Code of Conduct infractions and to impose
corresponding penalties (including possibly revoking season tickets).
Require all stadium personnel and/or their direct supervisors to be trained by
representatives of either the Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management ("TEAM") or
Training for Intervention Procedures ("TiPs") organization. Clubs interested in such
training may contact Milt Ahlerich in the League Office for more information.
Fan Hotline / Rapid Response Team
Set up a fan conduct "hotline" for fans to text / call in complaints for fast response during
games by a specialized "rapid response" security team, and to provide related feedback at other times.
One-way Security Paging Systems
Install a one-way paging system and equip security and crowd management personnel
with paging devices to reduce response times and support better real-time communication among these key personnel.
Dedicated Alcohol Management Teams
Implement roving Alcohol Management Teams, who would be responsible for surveying
fan behavior in the stadium and parking lots on game day, and pro actively addressing
conduct issues related to alcohol consumption.
Secret Shopper Programs
Use third party "secret shoppers" or the local ABC board to audit stadium concessionaire
and security performance.
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