A summer tradition is no more. The annual preseason exhibition game between the NFL's San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders was discontinued following the violence that marred Saturday night's matchup between the two teams. Two fans were shot outside San Francisco's Candlestick Park after the 49ers' 17-3 victory, and another fan was beaten unconscious in a restroom during the game. The 49ers announced that it will no longer participate in the annual exhibition, and an NFL official confirms that the cross-bay rivalry has likely come to an end. Is this the right move?
Yes. The game is too risky: This is a "logical, if unfortunate response to the violence," says Mike Sando at ESPN. The annual game brings together passionate, combative fans — "with alcohol readily available." There is really "no compelling reason to recreate circumstances that precipitated widespread, potentially deadly violence." It's not a worthwile risk for preseason games that don't even count in the standings.
"On canceling 49ers-Raiders in preseason"
No. Everyone is overreacting: The cancellation is "one of those all-too-common overreactions by NFL authorities to a rather common occurrence," says Keith Mathews at Bleacher Report. The claim that future violence will now be prevented is "hollow" — history is bound to repeat itself, "regardless of the actions of authorities to prevent it." The rivalry between the Raiders and the 49ers is "historically familiar," fun, and a sports tradition. This ill-advised decision "hurts the whole class of us fans."
"The San Francisco 49ers-Oakland Raiders preseason series should still be played"
Why not try a temporary break instead? The NFL should suspend the annual preseason game, not end it, says Clark Judge at CBS Sports. "Yes, there is a difference." Having two teams that are so geographically close play each other makes absolute sense, as a vehicle for local pride, revenue, and just plain fun. When fans can't control themselves, as was this case over the weekend, then "penalize them by pulling the plug." But not forever. Allow both teams the opportunity to resume the series "if and when they deem it possible" — and safe.
"Niners, Raiders should suspend, not end, series"