Accommodations Done Right: My Trip To The Eagles Game
A lot has changed for me over the years that I’ve been battling MS. The disease has affected so many important aspects of my life that this one feels almost insignificant. I’m talking about my ability to attend sporting events. While not a big deal in many parts of the country, growing up outside Philadelphia ensured that supporting and attending our local sports teams was a big part of my life. As Multiple Sclerosis has taken its toll on my body, it slowly but surely has made it difficult to attend games in person. The disease’s symptoms, coupled with accessibility issues at sporting events, have made me feel like I’d never attend a game in person ever again. Recently though, with some help from my friend Amanda and the Philadelphia Eagles, I was able to change that.
As I mentioned, going and cheering on my favorite teams has long been a beloved pastime of mine. The Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, and Sixers have all played a significant part in my life. I was even lucky enough to be a Flyers season ticket holder for a number of years. Rooting for the the hometown teams plays a big part in people’s lives where I grew up. It’s something that unites everyone in the area, no matter what their differences may be. It’s a connection to the people of the place where you grew up that you seldom experience in other ways. Seeing another fan sporting Eagles green, Flyers orange, or Phillies red always makes me feel a little bit connected to that person.
The problems with going to sporting events
It doesn’t take much to see why attending a sporting event in person can be difficult for someone with MS. First of all, stairs. Lots and lots of stairs. That’s probably the number one reason I stopped going to games. I’m fortunate that I can get around pretty well for short distances and periods of time. I can do such a great job faking it that I even look normal if the circumstances are right. However, if I step out of the perfect situation, I deteriorate fast, and typically end up on the ground. Getting to and from seats at a sports arena is extremely difficult, nearly impossible.
Stairs aren’t the only issue though. Noise can be extremely painful to me. Like many with MS, I suffer from sensory overload. A packed sports arena is FULL of loud noises and other things that can overwhelm my senses. Not being able to control temperature can be a huge issue too, particularly with baseball games and the summer heat. Even planning to attend a game can be difficult because I never know how my body will feel. Buying tickets ahead of time often means wasting money and disappointing friends because I may have to cancel.
Accommodations and a great day
Surely they can make accommodations for the disabled, right? They can. I know this, I’ve seen handicapped areas in arenas and stadiums: elevators, escalators, special seating areas, I know it’s all there. The problem with that, for me, is that I’m embarrassed. Particularly because if you look at me, I look completely fine on the outside. So my solution has been to just give up ever going to a game again. Pretty lame of me, I know. I’ve been at this MS thing for a long time, but I still have some hang ups like that!
I was expecting some looks
Recently though, a good friend of mine, Amanda, convinced me to go to an Eagles game. I agreed because it was in late fall (which usually means cooler weather) and because it was a week and a half after a Tysabri infusion, which is my best time of the month. Also, her passion for the team is infectious and I got pretty pumped to go. Now, I’m sure she was probably a little concerned about me cancelling; I was too, but I went. When we entered, we used escalators to go up and down. She also informed me that she had called the Eagles and mentioned my situation. They told her to have us check in at a designated spot when we arrived. I reluctantly agreed, expecting some looks from the staff and some major embarrassment on my part.
Things couldn’t have gone better
However, when we got to the booth they told us to check into, things couldn’t have gone better! To my surprise, there were no weird looks when I explained that I had MS and our seats would difficult to get to. They asked if I could do one stair, and I said, “oh yeah, sure”. They immediately sent a staff member to go scout a particular set of seats to confirm that they would work for me. When he got back and confirmed ease of access, those seats became ours. One step to go up and down, close to the bathroom too. It worked out wonderfully. Noise was an issue at times, but I was also really into the game, so I’m sure that helped.
There are accommodations out there
I paid a pretty heavy MS tax for several days after the game, but it was well worth it. This was a story I really wanted to share as a reminder that there are accommodations out there if you ask for them, or, as in my case, have a great friend that will ask for you. I also really wanted to show thanks to the staff I dealt with at the Philadelphia Eagles game. We hear so many stories about poor accommodations and judgmental people that I feel they need to be recognized. They could not have handled it any better, and it meant the world to me.
Thanks for reading!