Welcome crackdown

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

So the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have banned the beer snake.

Good lord, what’s next — cutting off the drunk when he asks for his 11th and 12th beers of the night?

What are they trying to do, turn a Bomber game into a church service? Tying one on at the stadium has become a tradition, for pete’s sake.

The beer snake — thousands of empty beer cups stacked together in a snaking formation that extends over the crowd — is a new addition to the craziness in Section S this season.

Last year it was the harmless game of punch-a-cop, which inexplicably got a fan or two tossed into the hoosegow. Geez, what’s a little fist sandwich amongst friends?

The goal of the beer snakers, and what booze-guzzling male couldn’t get into this, is to make it as long as possible. Three home games into the season, and videos of the thing were being posted on Youtube.

At some point, the thing comes apart — and that’s when the fun really begins, as fans would throw stacks of cups down onto the crowd below.

So what if a few people, including some kids, got cut. As Professor Kelly used to say, it’s a man’s game, played by men.

Understandably, some imbibers in the upper deck would want to get in on the action, so they’d throw cups down, too.

Sure, they’d sometimes forget to empty them, first. But who goes to a football game expecting to remain dry? If you don’t smell like beer when you get home, you obviously haven’t had a good time.

But no, along come the fun police, determined to put a stop to the whole thing.

“We need to find a way to discontinue the beer snake,” Bombers president Jim Bell said, Wednesday. “And as a result you’re not going to get hit with a cup. Or it should certainly help to alleviate the problem.”

The plan, then, is to ask the creative geniuses who start building the beer snake to stop.

Bell says he expects people will listen.

And if not?

“They will be escorted out.”

It’s all part of a new zero tolerance policy on abusive, disrespectful behaviour in the stands. A crackdown the Bombers hoped wouldn’t be necessary, but we’ve been in favour of for a long time.

Going into the season, the football club beefed up its police presence and announced a no re-entry policy, but said it would take a few weeks to monitor the results before cracking the whip.

“There will be a learning curve,” Bell said at the time. “But we expect by then our fans will be on to what it is we are trying to enhance.”

Wrong. It’s only gotten worse.

Now the Bombers face the challenge of clamping down three games into the season, when it would have been easier to lay down the law right off the bat.

Bell made it clear Section S and the beer snakes aren’t the only problems.

From last week’s game alone, I personally know of two incidents that shouldn’t happen at a game, one where a drunk who was cut off went ballistic, slamming drinks from a bystander’s hands and into his face, the other involving a 10-year-old boy reduced to near tears by the rowdies around him.

The kid and his mom left at halftime, and won’t be back anytime soon.

That might help explain the 3,000 or so empty seats the last couple of games. The stadium has become known as a place for families to avoid, a big-league mistake by a pro sports team.

“We have a very loyal following,” Bell said. “We want them to continue and enjoy Blue Bomber football and simply not have to worry about a projectile or disrespectful behaviour of any kind.”

Some of them aren’t that loyal, Jim.

Soak ’em in beer and foul language and they’ll say, thanks, but no thanks.

Beer snake or not.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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