Complying with the NFL Clear Bag Policy

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For scale: the left bag holds a sweater, sweatshirt, t-shirt, and clutch.

I’m torn on this one: part of me feels like sporting events are ripe for some sort of awful terrorist event and better gate protection is needed; the other part of me thinks that making a mom with two young kids buy and carry a clear bag into a stadium is not the solution.

About two days before heading out to a 49ers game, my mom said something to me about the new NFL all clear policy because I didn’t know a thing about it despite following football. (Following football is different from following stadiums. Keeping up with game rule changes was confusing enough, and FYI NFL, when reaching out to bloggers, don’t exclude the NFC West region.) I looked at the policy and then places to buy complying clear bags online through the NFL shop, but the 49ers bags were back ordered for weeks (and the least expensive bag remains backordered). I scrambled out to the nearby 49ers shop where I was able to find a small size bag for $5. I bought three – one for me, and one each per kid – and our stuff fit comfortably, but the problem was with the execution of the bag carry.

Going on a picnic, these bags would be great. They aren’t the most comfortable over my shoulder (longer straps would help), but they were fine. Yet, NFL stadiums are crowded, and Candlestick Park has walkways that resemble a mosh pit. I had to carry all three bags, plus hold my kids’ hands to safely navigate the crowd together. I missed the backpack that I take into SF Giants games, the one that holds all of our gear in one sack. and doesn’t keep sliding off my shoulder, knocking my kids in the head.

What made me uncomfortable about the clear bags is that everyone sees what you brought. I don’t care if you see my sweatshirt or water bottle, but my phone, wallet, and (spoiler alert) tampons are another story. To make me feel better about my wallet, I took a small square clutch – the same size as the one that used to hold my ID and cash on my keychain during college – and used a carabiner to secure it to the bag handle. This way my wallet wasn’t floating around in the bag, possible falling out or getting snatched. It worked perfectly.

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The tampons were another story and were shoved in between the sweatshirts, allowing me to retain some dignity. Maybe the NFL will next come out with a licensed feminine hygiene products bag.

If you bring along a child in diapers, but don’t worry, per the NFL, your baby can carry her own diaper bag!  ”Diapers can be carried in a clear bag. Each member of a family, including children, would be allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the stadium. That is a quite a bit of storage capacity.”

Here’s the thing, I’m happy to pay $5 for better security. I would have also paid $5 to avoid the out-of-her-mind drunk woman in front of us who threw up like a sprinkler, hitting all the seats around her, but that’s another story. I would feel a lot better about the NFL’s interests if they were not profiting from the bag sales. Paying $5 was fine, but the $10 and up, plus shipping, prices online make this feel like it’s more about revenue than safety. The position that there is a less expensive alternative – simple Ziplock bags – is nuts. They know football is played in the cool/cold weather, which usually calls for layers and blankets too bulky for any allowable Ziplock. Plus, are we supposed to Duct tape straps to make them wearable?

If you’re serious NFL, sell the $5 bag online, at stadium gates, and at merchandise booths inside the stadiums. I was stopped many times to answer where I found our bags for purchase. Answering, “the 49ers store in Palo Alto” wasn’t what people wanted to hear. We all want a safe environment, help make it easy to comply.

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