Folks, I have a confession to make. As I’ve gotten more into this one sports team I love (#LetItReign), I’ve started walking (and sometimes crossing) a fine line between ardent fan and obnoxious spectator. And so, for myself as much as for you, below please find some tips for being a good fan at a sporting event.*
1. When they announce the line-up for the visiting team, politely clap. You don’t have to cheer, but unless a member of the opposing team committed some act of violence, it’s reasonable to acknowledge their presence.
2. I am firmly on team ‘why are they playing the national anthem’ before non-national team matches, but in the U.S. at least, that’s still the super weird norm. I stand mostly because I’m not interested in getting into it with folks around me, but you do you. Additionally, there’s absolutely no need to sing along or put your hand on your heart.
Kick (or tip) Off
1. If you’re physically able, join in the home team tradition. Maybe it’s standing and cheering. Maybe it’s waving a scarf. Maybe it’s standing until the first basket. But don’t be the guy who insists on sitting it out. You came for the match; be here.
During The Game
1. Dont yell at the ref. This is where I’ve started to get obnoxious. It’s so tempting to make snarky (and at times weirdly ableist – I’m looking at you, people making jokes about blindness) comments. And you can, quietly, to your seatmate. But even if it gets a chuckle from your friends and a few people around you, screaming something specific after a bad call is a waste of breath.
You can, however, join the crowd in booing bad calls. That’s just good feedback.
2. Take pictures and tweet or update your Facebook status, but also watch. The damn. Game. Again, you’re there, enjoy it.
3. Time your trips to the toilet or snack bar with a break in play. We all know that stadiums and arenas are not designed to allow people easy ingress or egress. (They also seem designed for very short, very thin people, but that’s an essay for another day.) So every time you get up, four to ten people may have to get up too. And they might miss the one goal of the match.
4. Don’t yell at the players. You can cheer them on, but don’t scream (or, obviously shout slurs) at people on the other team either. Just shout “Yay!” or “Oh” like a decent person.
5. If someone — on either team — is injured, you clap when they leave the field. That’s just common decency. Non negotiable.
6. When someone subs in or out (this is for soccer specifically), clap politely (for the opposite team) or cheer wildly (for your team) as the player exits the match.
After the Game
1. Be patient. As I said above, these places are designed to keep you on your seat, not let you out. It may take some time.
2. Commiserate — or celebrate — with fellow fans. But always remember: it’s just a game for you. It’s not your livelihood, so don’t let the outcome color your evening (or whole weekend). Remember how lucky you are to get to see your team play in the first place, and go about your life.
Did I miss anyrhing you hate to see people do at sporting events? Let me know in the comments.
*This is specific to when you are supporting the home team. A later post will cover when you’re a traveling supporter.