The “Baseball Welcomes Allergic Fans” article was published in the NY Times last August. It covers the still-growing trend of peanut free sections at Major League Baseball games. While it brings welcome attention to the tricky question of taking peanut allergic kids to baseball games, it also perpetuates the myth that food allergy parents are paranoid and overprotective.
In the write-up, Dr. Wood states that “watching a game in an outdoor ballpark posed no significant threat to peanut-allergic children or adults” and that peanut free sections are a “marketing technique.” Now we love Dr. Wood. He is our son’s allergist. But I don’t think he has spent much time recently with active peanut-allergic kids at a ballpark.
Here’s our time at the ballpark when son was younger.
Son brings his ball and glove. He drops the ball. He picks it up. He visits the rest room. He touches everything. He walks back to his seat. He drops the ball again. It rolls down the aisle. He plays with the seat. He stares at the people behind us. He pokes his friend. He trips over the seat. He drops his safe candy. He wants to still eat it. He hugs the mascot. He eats more safe candy. He drops the ball again.
Unless you have reserved a whole block of seats for your group of food allergy friends, somewhere in this mess someone will be eating peanuts and dropping the peanut shells on the ground.
Here are some techniques that do NOT work to keep a peanut allergic kid safe and happy at the ballgame:
- Get active son to promise to stay in his seat. Nag him when he doesn’t. Keep nagging until son stays in his seat or husband wants to go home.
- Ask strangers not to eat peanuts around your child. This annoys strangers.
- Accept that strangers love peanuts. Ask strangers not to throw peanut shells on the ground. This also annoys strangers.
- Accept kid is active and people love peanuts. Be super mom with lots of wipes. Wipe, wipe, wipe. This annoys husband, kids and strangers. Mom goes crazy.
We took our 5 year old to a minor league game a few years ago. It was an uncrowded day with plenty of empty areas; we could scoot away from any peanut eaters. The game went really well. On the way out, dear son’s eye started swelling up. We think he must have touched a baseball with peanut residue and then rubbed his eye. He was fine with Benadryl but it wasn’t the way we wanted to end our evening.
Please, Dr. Wood, don’t think that peanut free sections are just a marketing technique! It’s the only way our family will attend a MLB game. Yes, I do already have our peanut free tickets for July.