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Ballpark nanny: Wash your hands!

Chicago CubsTalk about obsessive: a dentist, his wife and a crew of germaphobes visited 26 MLB ballparks to tally how well fans washed their hands in the restrooms — and hung out there to research the hard numbers.

In general, washing your hands is a good idea when there’s the chance to pass around something nasty, but we’ve all been in the situation where we skipped that step in the face of expediency — admit it, fellows. But there’s a wide spectrum between someone who occasionally skips the handwashing and someone who carries around a bottle of antibacterial gel at all times.

John Vallone, a Chicago-area dentist, is somewhat of a stickler for clean hands, and he set up a website,, that extensively argues the notion that there are urine and feces everywhere (that’s the UFE of the site name!) and that one needs to be constantly vigilant against bumping into somone else’s urine and feces. From the site’s discussion of urine and feces at the ballpark:

What many do not realize is how they are personally affected by the people next to them who have not washed their hands. After all, why should one care if other fans wash their hands or not? Well, just imagine that right after using the restroom, one of those fans decides to buy a hot dog and beer. His urine/feces-covered hands touch the counter, hand over urine/feces -laden money to the concessionaire, and finally he uses those same filthy, and possibly contaminated hands to touch the ketchup dispenser, the mustard dispenser, and the spoon to scoop up some tasty onions, etc. Now every fan who touches the dispenser after the non-hand washer is contaminated with the urine and/or feces. Now holding that same beer and hotdog, the fan (and hundreds of others like him) finally goes to his seat and happens to land right next to an unsuspecting thirsty fan who is purchasing a beer from a mobile vendor. Money, which has an UFE score of its own, is passed down the line of fans, going from one  hand to the next. The original smiling, seemingly clean, non-hand washing fan contributes even more UFE by helping with the passage of money from the parched fan to the beer vendor, and then back down the line of hands with the ice cold beer. And the worst part is yet to come! The beer is passed from one UFE hand to the next, so now every fan that helped with that innocent exchange has become tainted and is now a contributor of the UFE contagion. The most frightening part is that our research shows that any substance that is on your hand will be on your face within 60 minutes. Get the point?  Now multiply that by thousands of fans and you end up with an UFE nightmare!


As mentioned, the good dentist and his volunteers visited all 30 MLB ballparks (Vallone and his wife visited 26) and ranked them in terms of hand washing, with Wrigley Field declared the dirtiest of the bunch. Now, the UFE folks position this as a ballpark ranking, but it’s not: it’s a ranking of fans, and they’re really saying Cubs fans are the dirtiest in baseball. To that, we respond: Bravo! Cubs fans, stand tall against the nanny state. Ignore these nags who would have you wash your hands more often and drink less beer and lose weight and generally act in a healthier manner. We love you just the way you are, and we’re not going to obsess whether that Old Style was handled in the cleanest way possible: life is too short to worry about whether there are a few loose germs floating around the concourse. Remember: that which does not kill us makes us stronger.


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