Peterson’s Sports Bar Walkthrough: Why it’s No Big Deal

A minor controversy erupted during the Vikings 17-14 win over the Packers on Sunday night, when Adrian Peterson went down with an injury and was helped to the locker with the assistance of trainers (he refused a cart). The path Peterson took to the locker room, as caught by cameras, took him through a sort of VIP sports bar called the Delta Sky360 club, wear fans pay a mint to sit and watch the game just a short distance from the field, and get to see players come in and out of the locker rooms.

This bothered a lot of people. One such person is Dave Brown of Vice Sports, who complained of fans "turning their heads to gape as Peterson went by," and even leaning in to take pictures with their cell phones. Further, "It used to be that injured players could disappear through an exit under the stadium into some amount of privacy. Perhaps TV cameras would follow for a while, but at least networks could cut away if there was too much adult language or blood."

Well, they still can and do cut away of course, although I will apologize to Brown when NBC shows a player getting a foot amputated on the way to or in the locker room. So I'm not sure what his point was there. But the larger point, shared by other writers, is that making Peterson or any other injured player trek through such a public venue is degrading, or embarrassing; it's making public that which should be private, for the sake of the player's dignity.

I'm not entirely unsympathetic to that view. It's not great that the layout of U.S. Bank Stadium allows this sort of scene to play out. Furthermore, I suppose I should be happy when anyone is critical of the largesse of unimpeded capitalism. A lot of the objection seems to be not simply that fans can rubberneck injured players for a few moments up close, but that richies can pay for the privilege.

But the idea that you can be spirited away after an injury under a complete cloak of privacy is something most of us can never realize, and I have a good example of that: me.

Something like seven or eight years ago, I was at my office job when I took a great big ol' swig of bottled water that went directly down the wrong pipe. This kicked off a coughing fit so severe that I passed out. On the way out of consciousness, I slammed my face and head against my desk, breaking my nose and sending blood gushing out of it.

When I came to a minute later, I was on the floor surrounded by gawking coworkers, three-deep. Since I hit my head, it was decided that the precautionary thing to do was to call an ambulance. The paramedics duly immobilized my head with those orange boxy things on either side of it, just like you see them do for football players who sustain serious head or spine injuries. Then, they loaded me onto a stretcher, down an elevator, and through a long hallway where many, many more co-workers got to see yours truly with a blood-covered face and in obvious distress.

Other than the broken nose, I was fine, no problem or even temporary damage to anything else, and I was released from the hospital a few hours later. But there was no expectation of privacy for me, nor would there have been even if it had happened at home; a stopped, lit-up ambulance tends to attract the attention of neighbors.

The same is true for pretty much all of us who walk this earth, so I don't know why we need to go out of our way to make it less true for people in a profession where, at that level, I would expect every last one of them at one point or another has had to be taken to the locker room due to an injury. It's part and parcel of the game of football, which I think decreases the macabre aspects of AP's restaurant walk. At an office building, such a scene is not typical.

As tired as such a thing is to say, this definitely seems like one of those things I, for one, would be willing to trade off for the salary of an NFL player (and presumably, so would most players, and I don't think Adrian Peterson himself has complained), if there was anything even to trade off.

I mean, yes: the world is absolutely full of a toxic mindset of "how do we monetize literally everything in the world?" and the layout of the new stadium — an unprecedented level of access without you having to even having to put down your teriyaki garlic wing! — is emblematic of that mindset. But there are thousands of examples of that we should be much, much more troubled by, from prisons to pharmaceuticals. You could even argue that this development is a good thing, as the game is for the fans, and this is getting the fans closer to what they want.

The rich fans, anyway. Which is why I'm not the man to make that argument. But I am making the argument that this is really no big deal, and if this really, truly bothers you, I strongly encourage you to think of ways where unbounded capitalism has average people and those on the margins without the dignity they may ought to have, or may have once had, and get angry about that. Write about that. Do something about that. You might even find examples of our profit-motive society causing problems even worse than a lack of dignity.

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