Some 13 months after the coronavirus pandemic closed doors to most movie theaters, music venues, and stadiums, widespread vaccination rollouts are finally allowing things to open back up. Of course, vaccines or not, it goes without saying that we’re all still going to be living with COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the indefinite future. And though that’s understandable, the Staples Center in Los Angeles raised eyebrows this week after announcing its own reopening guidelines.
“We have worked closely with state and local health officials to implement new safety protocols to provide you a safe and enjoyable experience,” the self-proclaimed “sports and entertainment center of the world” tweeted on Tuesday, followed by a list of updated rules.
Most of the rules outlined are common sense, such as health verifications required for all ticketed guests, mandatory face coverings, social distancing, and contactless payments. However, it was one rule in particular that caught the attention of Twitter.
“Bags and purses of any size are not permitted, including backpacks, clutches, totes, clear bags, and camera bags,” the Staples Center tweeted. “Only bring necessary items that fit in your pocket. Wallets without chains or straps are allowed.”
Aside from the fact that it’s been readily proven that COVID-19 doesn’t live on surfaces as long as previously thought, a ban on bags and purses seems perplexing at best.
There is simply no logic-based argument to suggest bags contribute to the spreading of disease. Also, many people need bags to carry essential personal items such as medication, menstrual and hygiene products, childcare needs, life-saving devices like EpiPens, and so on! Not to mention, the ban is inherently sexist since pockets on women’s pants typically aren’t big enough to hold a cell phone—much less wallets, sanitary pads, and tampons.
As the tweet went viral, people began calling out the Staples Center for the sexist and ableist policy. “Just say you don’t want women and children to come back to games,” tweeted sportswriter Lindsay Jones. Others had plenty of similar sentiments.
There were also a few variations of the “tell me without telling me” meme lobbed at the Staples Center.
As the outcry grew louder, Staples Center responded to a few concerned tweets with offers of lockers for rent outside of the stadium, and suggestions to contact guest services. Unfortunately, the venue only managed to dig its grave deeper.
But hey, if there’s one small concession to be gleaned here, The Athletic reporter Chris Vannini may have found it: Cargo pants are the answer.
We’ll take it a step further to suggest maybe it’s about time that JNCOs finally made their long-overdue revival—if for no other reason than to stick it to sexist and ableist stadiums and venues. If you take our tampons and EpiPens, we shall wear pants more powerfully ugly than you can possibly imagine.