Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Spectators Behaving Badly

School's back in! School's back in! Yay, school!

(Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know that made you want to retch. I NEVER felt that way about school starting!)

One of the most annoying things about the first weeks back school, to me, occurs when teachers and administrators present you with a list of (presumably self-evident) don'ts for school. Things you've heard for years, such as, "Don't leave the building without stopping by the office" or "Don't steal books from the library." Since the first day of school often coincides with the first big sporting events of the year, I thought I'd devote today's blog to a more useful back-to-school topic: The Don'ts of Watching Sports. (Not that you'd ever engage in annoying sports-watching behavior, of course.)

These suggestions are meant to help you from becoming a social pariah while watching your favorite sports teams win games this fall. (And if YOU have suggestions that are missing from this list, post 'em!)

Niki's Don't List:

1) Don't do the cell phone wave. You've probably seen this behavior during televised games. There's one guy standing in the middle of the bleachers while everyone else is seated, talking on his cell phone and waving to the camera, presumably to show his friends (who are watching at home) that he's cool enough to be at the game. This happens at least once during every single game I watch, whether it's a high school football game on my local cable network or a major league baseball game on Fox Sports. Here's the thing: the friends you're calling think it's goofy rather than cool. That's why they're egging you on, not because they think you're impressive on screen. It's their job to laugh at you and this is a prime opportunity. Everyone else finds it annoying. Sit down and pocket the phone.

2) Don't confuse bleachers with your living room and/or automobile. Private conversations are best held in private places, like your home, your car, or when you're out on a walk and know for an absolute fact there's no one else within hearing range. When you're sitting at a sports event, the people around you can hear everything you say. For instance: if you're a lawyer (or possibly a law student) and your name starts with A., and you were sitting in section 142 at the Red Sox/Orioles game in Fenway a couple weeks ago, the entire section wants to warn your boyfriend M. to run away. They know exactly what you think of him. So does most of section 143. They discussed it while you and your BFF went to get more beer. While your conversation would have been perfectly appropriate for the car ride home (hey, these are the things friends share), it is not something you probably wanted to broadcast.

3) Don't assume you know who's nearby. This is closely related to #2. When you're watching a game, you have no idea who may have slipped into the row behind you when you were focused on the ball moving down the field. Sports, by their nature, involve crowds and noise. That means it's very easy for someone to sit down behind you, where they can hear every word you say, without you even being aware of the fact. Exercise caution.

4) Don't pretend to understand the game if you're clueless. Now, it's perfectly acceptable to attend a game even if you're not an expert on that particular sport. (I love going to soccer games, but I can't figure out all the ways someone gets offsides, despite having it explained to me and pointed out in games more times than I can count.) If you're in the stands and confused, take a clue from the folks around you and cheer when they cheer. Quietly ask a knowledgeable friend to explain things you don't understand. But don't fake knowledge. The girl who talks loudly about how it was awesome when the quarterback kicked the ball through the uprights for a touchdown is going to regret it later. Trust me on this.

5) Don't forget to have fun. Sports fans can get intense. But do you really need any more stress in your life? Enjoy yourself! (Besides, if your team gets crushed, there's always next year.)


P.J. Ruditis said...

I've got one on a semi-related subject. A friend witnessed this just last week...

At a classical concert, one should not cheer or hoot and holler throughout every musical selection. You are watching an orchestra perform, not a football team. No one will be spiking the violin.

Wendy Toliver said...

When I was in college, I started dating a guy on the tennis team. Never having been to a tennis match in my entire life, it would've come in handy if someone would've clued me in that you are not supposed to clap and holler. Yikes! Good news is, I nabbed me my cute tennis guy anyway and he even married me. :)