Sports can bring out the best, the worst and the petty out people—not just the fans but even the people within the organization.
Case in point: the Chicago Bears. The Bears and the Green Bay Packers have one of the most intense rivalries in sports. It’s so intense that the Bears banned fans from wearing opposing teams’ gear on the field at Soldier Field.
In comes Packers fan Russell Beckman.
Beckman, a resident of Mount Pleasant, Wis., is a huge Packers fan with both Packers’ and Bears’ season tickets.
Beckman told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel he attended Packers’ games at Soldier Field, with his Packers’ gear on, in both 2014 and 2015 and, as a season ticket-holder, was allowed access to the field during pregame warm-ups.
However, prior to the 2016 game, the Bears sent out an email to season ticket holders who had signed up for the on-field experience and let them know that no opposing gear would be allowed.
Beckman, a high school social studies teacher, called and emailed the Bears ticket office and he was told the same thing. But he’s a Packers fan, so he wore the green and gold anyway and was turned back at the turf.
Beckman told the Journal Sentinel that Soldier Field, as a publicly owned facility, “should respect our liberties” as fans.
“I love football and I’m a fan of the game,” Beckman said. “I have tremendous respect for Bears fans. They’re tenacious, have grit and are loyal. But I warned the Bears and the NFL that if action wasn’t taken, I’d do this.”
Beckman is now suing the Bears.He filed a 10-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accusing the Bears of denying him his free-speech rights by blocking his access to the Bears’ home turf while wearing Packers gear.
At this point, both sides are being petty. I understand why the Bears only want fans in Bears’ gear on their field, and I understand why Beckman is mad he can’t wear what he wants to wear, but to take it this far is kind of silly.
Hopefully both sides can resolve this disagreement soon.
Photo credit: Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel