A matter of coarse

Have you ever been an opposing team's fan in another team's stadium?

At the National Football League level, it can be intimidating, if not downright dangerous.

Rabid football fans, often fueled by large amounts of alcohol, will mimic their football "heroes" -- who get in their opponents' faces and taunt them after a big play.

"Not in our house!" some will scream, along with profanity, at opposing fans -- who, by the way, may be adding to the hosting city's economy by staying in hotels, dining in restaurants and shopping in stores.

The NFL, as most sports entities, has long turned a blind eye to such boorish and evening frightening behavior.

No more, the league says.

In advance of the league's pre-season, which started this past week, the NFL announced a new code of conduct for fans.

And it's about time.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell several years ago began a crackdown on NFL players' behavior, on and off the field. He's done a superb job of disciplining thugs and likely preventing more thuggish behavior.

Now he's patrolling the stands.

The new code of conduct says fans engaging in drunken behavior, fights, verbal abuse of opposing fans and either crude language or obscene gestures will risk being removed from the stadium -- and may lose their season tickets as well.

"I have been forced to listen (to) the worst possible language while attending football games with my children," reports one Internet blogger, "and made the decision not to take kids to NFL games as a result. I, for one, believe it is about time."

All professional sports should adopt similar codes and enforce them strictly.

They need to go beyond that, even. The NFL, especially, should ban all manner of taunting on the field as well. It's that on-field macho bravado that kids and parents have mimicked over the years and taken to youth sporting events. It's gotten completely out of hand.

This isn't just a sporting issue, either. Our entire society has become ridiculously coarse. One parent reported to us that he recently heard a man use a curse word while watching the G-rated Disney movie Wall-E in a movie theater. And why not? The animated movie Antz a few years ago featured cussing by some of its characters!

We're not merely promoting gentility for gentility's sake. It can be a matter of safety. Loutish behavior can lead to injury and death. A man in London recently was pushed off a city bus and died after asking young toughs to watch their language. In southeastern England recently, a woman was pushed onto electrified train tracks by some punks she had asked to observe the no-smoking rule on the station platform. Thankfully, she survived.

The question is, will civility?

The answer is: Only if we make it so.

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