What on Earth was going on at Candlestick Park last Saturday? Is this the same venue my dad took me to watch the Giants and Niners play when I was a kid? A place where I never felt unsafe? If it had not been for fans wearing 49ers and Raiders gear I would have thought I was watching the madness that is usually seen at an international soccer game, minus the bonfires in the stands.
This was a preseason game, right? Means nothing, right? For a game that means nothing, it certainly brought out the worst in a lot of fans.
I am big on tradition. As a 49ers fan I even look forward to watching football on Thanksgiving broadcast from Dallas and Detroit, of all places. That’s just the way it has been for so long and it’s a cool tradition. This annual preseason meeting between the Niners and Raiders, though, needs to go away. What happened to some of the fans in attendance and outside the stadium should be enough for the teams and the league to look for other preseason match-ups for years to come as well as what to expect when the Silver-&-Black come to town.
We’ve seen pictures and videos of the fights in the stands. I would venture to say that there were plenty of other altercations not captured on film. We also have heard the reports of the two fans shot in the parking lot (isolated incidents) and the fan who was beaten unconscious in a stadium bathroom.
The cause of the violence and how to prevent it from happening again has been the big talk this week. Most who know anything about the two teams and their fans would quickly say that the influence of the Raiders was the main reason for all that went down that night. To be fair, the 49ers don’t play in the safest of areas (Bayview-Hunters Point) and the images and videos show fans wearing crimson-and-gold taking swings at those of the visiting team. As much as I don’t want to blame this mess on the Raiders and their fans…..I’M GOING TO ANYWAY!
My dad used to tell me and my sister when we’d get into a fight, “it takes two to tango.” In most situations, Saturday’s game included, the saying is true. With that theory in mind I almost gave Raider Nation a pass by trying to make this as little about their presence as possible. However, I highly doubt the atmosphere will be similar this Saturday when the Niners host the Houston Texans.
Only the Raiders and their fans bring the mentality which leads to shootings in the parking lot, beatings in bathrooms, brawls in the stands. Only the Raiders and their fans cause their hosts to go back to the drawing board when it comes to stadium security. In San Diego, Qualcom Stadium won’t open the gates of the parking lot until two hours before the start of a Chargers-Raiders game to prevent the kind of problems we saw at “The Stick.”
Many will propose limiting the amount of alcohol sold at games. Unfortunately there is way too much revenue generated to further limit the sale of beer, wine, etc (most stadiums stop selling alcoholic beverages at the end of the third quarter). But the Niners’ management seems to be on the right track. There have been talks of limiting tailgating before and after the games, setting up DUI checkpoints outside of the stadium parking lots along with an overall increase in security. History has shown that there isn’t a need for these measures during the regular season and all preseason games which don’t include the Raiders.
Whether last Saturday’s violence is related to a rivalry, alcohol or the area surrounding the stadium it is going to be hard for teams to look past the influence of the Raiders and how they are known, something to the effect of villains who will rob you and then knock you ‘round and upside down and then laugh. That’s the message of the Raiders theme song, which ends up implying that the team actually wins. If the team can’t win, their fans sure are doing a good job of making sure to live up to the rest.