Courtesy of DC Defenders
Courtesy of DC Defenders

The District’s newest sports team—the DC Defenders—has only played three home games, but there’s already a tradition in the stands at Audi Field and it’s way better than the wave. At the XFL game against the St. Louis BattleHawks on March 8, fans in the standing room section of the stadium worked together to build a “beer snake.” The team tweeted that the snake was made out of 1,237 cups, representing almost 20,000 ounces of consumed beer. 

Could the winding snake be a sign that D.C. finally has a football team it can root for without being ashamed?

“I know this is a weird thing to say, but you can tell that this area and the fandom are desperate to have a football team they can cheer for and really devote themselves to,” says Ted Peters, known to many locals as “Captain Obvious.” Naturally, one of D.C.’s most devoted sports fans helped build the beer snake over the weekend. “Now we have this and it’s a new thing. It’s like a new teddy bear, you get to hug it.” 

Spectators built two separate snakes in sections 136 and 137 and eventually merged them into one long snake. It surpassed the length of the snake that fans first built at a Feb. 15 game.

“When people drink the beer, instead of throwing the cups in the trash can they were slinging them down to the beer snake people,” Peters says. “The cups don’t fly very well. They only go down five or six rows at a time until they hit someone in the back of the head who’s watching the game. Once they realize they’re not being thrown at, they help.”

A fan named Noah also found himself in beer-snake territory. “When you finished your drink, you handed your cup down to the person in front of you,” he says. “By the second quarter, people were throwing them down. It was raining cups.” 

Noah’s seen beer snakes before. He’s from Chicago where the Cubs and controversial sports site Barstool Sports got into a dust up about cup snakes. The Cubs didn’t want to encourage fans to stack their cups and Barstool seemingly egged people on by selling t-shirts that depicted snaking cups and the tagline “COME AND TAKE IT.” 

Now, Noah says, if you’re at a Cubs game and security sees you have more than one empty cup, they’ll take it from you, though there doesn’t appear to be any explicit cup policy spelled out in Wrigley Field’s code of conduct. You’d think, Noah argues, they’d encourage snakes because people might be inclined to buy more beer. Cricket spectators are credited with building the first beer snakes. 

The president of the DC Defenders is on board with the snakes. 

“The beautiful thing about it is we had nothing to do with it,” says Erik Moses. “It was the most organic thing I’ve ever seen in a sports context. Organic and at scale! It’s just a beautiful thing to see.”

At first Moses says they were unsure about selling tickets for the standing-room only section that was created for soccer fans who are used to standing throughout games. They were the last tickets to go on sale but the section has become the accidental heart and soul of the stadium. “The response has been really amazing,” Moses says. “We’ve been pleased to see not only the enthusiasm and passion in that group, but now the creativity.” 

Moses says seeing the District latch onto a brand new team so quickly and enthusiastically has been “the most humbling and gratifying thing” he’s ever experienced professionally. “There are super fans now who have come up with their own customs like the beer snake.” 

Even the commissioner of the XFL, Oliver Luck, did his part by adding a cup. “He came over in his suit,” Noah says. “He had a cup. He pumped up the crowd like Hulk Hogan. He was a pretty good sport about it and added one to it.” 

The Defenders’ next home game is this Sunday at 4 p.m. against the Dallas Renegades.