Please make contact with that deep and joyous part of you that is passive-aggressive.
Yes, the part of you that wants to remove the man sitting and spitting in the seat in front of you at an NFL game, or the lady who is flipping everyone off at a baseball game (probably a Yankees fan). Yes, the part of you that doesn't want to get involved in finger gestures, f-words, or fisticuffs.
Rejoice, because the wonders of texting can now be brought to bear down on the miscreants of the sports arena. All you have to do is know one number and text the nature of the problem you're having with another fan to that number.
Twenty-nine of the 32 NFL stadiums employ the service--described by ESPN's Rick Reilly as "tattletexting." So do many Major League Baseball, NBA and, yes, even NCAA March Madness games. (Hockey has it too. But surely, one would only want to text to get the slobbering, scuffling players off the ice.)
The Cincinnati Bengals, a team that seems to have more antisocial elements on its team than in its seats, has the lovely tattletexting number 513-381-JERK.
Reilly's column reveals some of the real texts collected by one of the companies involved in this highly entertaining enterprise, In Stadium Solutions (please, will someone tell companies that "solutions" is so 1997?):
Lady in turquoise tank is flipping people off and cursing sec 235 row 14. (Turquoise has always been a suspicious color.)
How about Drunk guy passed out in my seat & can't wake him up sec 442? (Perhaps he wants you to take his seat? It might be better.)
You will unquestionably be disturbed by Guy in black jacket is exposing himself to people. Section 408 row 4 seat 7. He has spikey hair. (Spikey hair? As Reilly worries, "Where?")
Scott Meyers of ISS told ESPN: Only about 5 percent of the texts we get are pranks." Yes, people have texted to suggest that the refs, the players, or the coaches be removed, though none has been known to come from Mark Cuban, as he seems to favor Twitter.
The tattletexting system is very simple. It doesn't just take the texter's word for it. The message goes through to closed-circuit camera operators, who check to see whether the lady in turquoise, the passed-out dude, or the exposed spikey hair really exist.
However, one can only imagine if, one day, an especially passive-aggressive owner, which would exclude both Cuban and Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders, might use the service to fire a coach or trade a player.
Imagine, the Miami Heat gets a new, slippery owner. He decides the save money. He decides he doesn't need star guard Dwayne Wade. He decides to scale a new height of passive aggression.
"Excuse me, Mr. Dwayne Wade," a large individual in uniform might whisper to Wade at practice. "Please come with me. You've just been traded to the Clippers."
As Wade tries to come to terms with a potential life in the NBA equivalent of a row boat with no oars, the large man in uniform whispers: "The owner thought this was the most, you know, modern, sensitive way to do it."
"Huh?" Wade stammers.
"Well, you know, you all those T-Mobile commercials you do. The owner thought you'd respect him more for doing this by text."