Written by Ash Alan, Truckee, CA

Have you ever watched your favorite football team play at Seattle Seahawk’s Qwest Field and ever wondered if the insane crowd noise was ever just a tad too much?  I mean how many false starts do we have to watch before we conclude that Seattle’s 12th man is unlike any other in the NFL?

The Qwest Field Stadium, no doubt an architectural marvel and the envy of the NFL, was designed to specifically disrupt opposing offenses by acoustically enhancing the noise level on the playing field.

The result; offensive buffoonery taken to a whole new level.  Is this fair to the rest of the league?  Of course we know what Seahawks fans would have to say about the matter as well as 49er fans next year in their own rendition of crowd noise heaven.

But not every NFL team has the luxury of building new stadiums to match the prowess of Qwest Field.

How then do we solve this problem of stadium inequality in the NFL?  Are we so uncivilized now that we would rather watch a hapless offense lose not to the team its playing on the field, but to six pack Joe’s inaudible grunts?

Certainly I would never support new rules that inhibit fan enthusiasm, but wouldn’t we enjoy the art of the game more if we decided upon a decibel level that still made some communication possible for the visiting team- even if they have to shout?

Not to mention, football strategy unlike any other popular modern day sport, relies heavily on verbal communication to carry out well designed play calling.

Most NFL fans are surprised to learn that in 1989 the NFL actually enacted a crowd noise penalty, however, it has been rarely used and the few times it has been called strong negative reactions from both players and fans have curbed its use.

The rule states that the visiting team’s quarterback is permitted to alert the referee if he is not unable to snap the ball due to excessive crowd noise.  If the referee concurs with the complaint a five yard penalty is called on the home team.

Despite the rule, many quarterbacks have complained that referees simply ignore the request.  Why then does the rule still exist if referees refuse to acknowledge it?  Personally speaking, I believe subjectivity in sports is always a slippery slope and runs the risk of scorn and ambiguity.

In order to make things more fair, what if NFL owners agree upon a maximum decibel level in every stadium across the country that still allows for fan exuberance without blowing out ear drums and preserving specifically what makes football….football, namely, its down by down offensive strategy that makes this game so dynamic and original?

Perhaps the rule can be edited to allow the home team one warning if the maximum decibel levels are breached.  A second offense- a time out is taken away, and a third results in a five yard loss.

The NFL can even put a camera on the decibel reader for all to watch.  The threat of punishment might just be enough to keep crowd noise from reaching ridiculous levels that turns professional football into a comedy of errors.

After all is not the NFL a long-standing proponent of good sportsmanship?

How then can we justify excessive crowd noise that actually prevents the game from being played fairly?

One thing is certain, Americans are obsessed with fairness, despite its elusiveness in the real world.    Maybe its time the NFL creates its own constitution; boldly declaring all crowd noise shall be made equal.

There is only one solution to stadium fairness- call or write your local NFL owner and demand crowd noise equality today!

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