Dear Mark Poloncarz:

Hi.

As Erie County Executive, you are a busy man, and you have been quite successful. Since election in 2011, Erie County has continued to experience the upward trajectory that has been the greatest story of our region in this decade. You have contributed to this, and that’s why you were re-elected this past fall. 

Just as wonderful to our region as the growth of Buffalo has been the newfound stability of the Buffalo Bills. For many years under the ownership of the late Ralph Wilson, the constant pall of the team leaving was a dark cloud hanging over the organization. In 2014, that cloud was lifted thanks to Terry and Kim Pegula, and we can all breathe easy knowing Bon Jovi songs can grace the jukeboxes of blue collar bars around the region again.

Monday, these two superpowers converged in an article mentioned by you on your twitter feed (@markpoloncarz). In the piece, published on WIVB.com (http://wivb.com/2016/01/04/county-officials-react-to-bills-fan-behavior/), you are quoted as saying “We want our community to cheer for the Bills, which means it would be nice if you could take a ten year old to a football game, but I’m not so certain I’d want to take a ten year old when you’ve got all this stuff going on outside the stadium.”

Mr. Poloncarz, let’s point out a few things. One, not one of these videos in question show a child being put in harm’s way. These appear to be individuals ranging from their early 20’s to late 30’s inflicting harm upon themselves or friends. Two, not at any point does it appear anyone is angry about what is happening. Mostly, people are saying “no way…” or something along those lines. Three, the property being damaged is folding tables or a small dent in an RV. Four…

Actually, I’m done going on about this. The point is that over the course of the past couple of decades, professional sports teams, in an ever-increasing effort to #enhancing the #brand by #interacting on #social #media, have pushed families to come to games. That’s fine, and as a father of two young children, I have thoroughly enjoyed the children’s day game during the preseason the last two years. 

But I’ve also grown to realize that when I attend my two games a year in the regular season, my wife and kids stay at home. And that’s ok, too, because being an adult and doing adult things like drinking, swearing, eating and cheering does not always need to involve every age. If I saw a couple screwing in the parking lot, I would walk the other way. If I didn’t want my son to hear profanity at age four, I wouldn’t bring them to the game.  

Let’s stop acting like every individual is forced to tailgate at 8:30 a.m. and there’s a five-drink minimum before attending, or that they must be powerbombed through an ignited table. Everyone enjoys it the way they do, and that’s cool. You can be sober and have fun; you can drink and have fun. This is not Dodger Stadium, where opposing fans have been stabbed outside, nor is it European soccer stadiums across that continent, where attacks against visiting fans are still prevalent.

Bills fans party hard. The Deadspin videos have given the country a glimpse into the best fan experience in the NFL. Sure, they are laughing. But there is undoubtedly a little jealousy in those comments as well. Buffaloians party hard and have a great time. It’s an unconditional love, and it’s perfectly acceptable. 

So keep on keeping on, Mark. You are doing a great job. Thank you for that. But don’t be a moralist. I’m sorry you don’t feel you can take your ten-year old to a Bills game. If you explained to him that adults do dumb things sometimes, I bet he could handle it. 

And the part where you imply we should use county resources to enforce vague, non-existent laws? Come on, Mark. Be better. Come down to the tailgate next season, and let’s have a beer.


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