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Family section

ANYONE who regularly attends professional sporting events is aware that the atmosphere in the stands is often unwholesome. For some, sitting in the stands seems only to be an excuse to drink beer. Others smuggle more potent drinks into the stadium. The result can be loud profanity, unruliness, and even brawling. Even when only a small minority of spectators is involved, the event may be spoiled for the many around them, particularly families.

This is why the new family sections in the stadiums of the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, and Buffalo Bills are so welcome. Starting next season, these pro football clubs are setting aside sections where no beer will be sold and no consumption of alcoholic beverages will be permitted. What is more, the Bills have announced that they will ban bringing containers into their stadium, thereby eliminating the problem of smuggled alcohol.

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The football teams' plans are part of a quiet trend in professional sports to make the stands more suitable for family entertainment. In recent years several major league baseball teams have adopted similar family sections. And several sports franchises -- including major league baseball as a whole -- have begun to clamp down on drunken and rowdy behavior in the stands.

There is much more to be done, but these are encouraging steps.

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