Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Taking a stand against frisking

Bombers fan decides he's had enough

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When it comes to Bombers fans, Tom Goodhand is the kind of dyed-in-the-Blue-wool and pure-Gold season-ticket holder the football club relied on for so many years to keep it out of the red -- which makes this story all the more sad and meaningful.

The story starts last Friday, when the retired physician -- and the father of former Free Press editor Margo Goodhand -- was the only fan watching the team practise from the otherwise empty Canad Inns Stadium stands, and a Free Press photographer -- not knowing who Goodhand was -- saw a good picture. In retrospect, it was one of those rare moments where synchronicity meets symbolism. Because the next day, Goodhand was alone at the stadium in a different way.

Saturday was the last Bombers game of the season -- the last one in the old ballpark, too -- and after reading my column on Friday about Owen Preston, the Big Blue fan who attended games at every other CFL stadium this year without getting frisked like a felon, Tom Goodhand decided it was time to take a stand. He fired off a heat-seeking missile of an email to the Bombers board of directors, warning he would refuse to be patted down at Saturday's game.

Goodhand said more than that.

He told them if they insisted on the pat-down, and the practice persisted, it would be the last game he attended.

He would not renew his season ticket when the Bombers move to Investors Group Field in 2013.

But the email bounced back. So, Saturday he arrived early for the game and dropped off a printed copy of his letter at the Bombers office.

Then off he went to take his stand.

And when the security person at the gate asked him to raise his arms so he could be searched, Goodhand said no.

"I asked to see someone else."

By someone else he meant a board member or someone other than another member of the stadium security staff.

The first security member said he couldn't do that and called for another member of the security team.

"He said the same thing," Goodhand recalled. "I said, 'Well, I'm not going to be patted down and I certainly intend to go to the game.' "

Just then, an older woman intervened. She wasn't attired like a member of the security team, but she spoke with authority, as if she might have been part of the Bombers management.

"She said, 'It's the last game of the season, let him in without the security pat-down.' "

Suddenly, it was as if the woman had thrown a block, the way a burly Bombers linemen does. The security personnel stepped back, a hole opened in the Bombers stadium defence, and Goodhand went right through it. Untouched.

They didn't lay a hand on him.

"I am proud of myself for taking this stand," Goodhand told me after his equally proud daughter contacted me. "But when I realized that I was the only one of the roughly 20,000 male and female fans at the Montreal-Bombers game to enter the stadium without suffering the indignity of a 'professional' pat-down, I began to think that perhaps I was tilting at windmills."

Goodhand also told me this, though.

"I'm surprised that somebody else hasn't done it. We're just a bunch of sheep."

As of Monday afternoon, the Bombers office had acknowledged receipt of his letter, but Goodhand was still waiting to hear from a board member. The acknowledgment came from Carol Barrott, the Bombers customer service manager. She wrote and defended the club's pat-down policy the team intends to continue.

"I am sorry to hear," she concluded, "that you are considering not renewing your tickets for the 2013 season at Investors Group Field."

Tom Goodhand doesn't accept the football club's policy and, if it continues, he pledges he won't buy more season tickets.

He would like many other fans to stand up as he did and say no next year to being frisked. That's unlikely to happen, of course, and he knows it.

But judging by emails I've received from other longtime season-ticket holders, Goodhand can take comfort in knowing there are other mad-as-hell fans who aren't going to take it anymore. "It" being the generally disrespectful treatment Bombers fans are feeling from Bombers management. The ones who have written to me have vowed to cancel their tickets, too. For what that's worth, at least Goodhand doesn't find himself alone in the stands, there.

By the way, for the record, I'm proud of Goodhand.

The rest of you dyed-in-the-Blue-wool sheep should be, too.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 6, 2012 B1

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