Etiquette for Sports Fans

Football fans

There is never a dull moment for sports fans.  Access to watching games and events is easier than ever.  
Even if you aren't able to attend in person, there are hundreds of sports channels on television and many videos via the internet.  This means hours of on-demand enjoyment for fans of every sport from football to bowling, creating many occasions to be a winner or loser of a game.

By definition, sports and games mean competition.  But there are some fans who tend to push the boundaries of competitive enjoyment into unfriendly territory, forgetting that good sportsmanship is the core of the etiquette of being a fan.  On big game days, it's especially important to remember that things you might say on social media may reflect more than what you mean in your heart!

When Attending a Sporting Event

The first rule of civility in any situation that involves other people is to be mindful of those around you.  And sporting events are no exception.  After all, stadiums and arenas can be very crowded.

  • Remove your hat and stand for the National Anthem.
  • Be aware of your space and others’ space.  Sports fans are especially sensitive to space concerns when at a crowded event.
  • Get to your seat before the game starts.  Your walking in front of someone could cause them to miss a key play.
  • Waving your hands, hat or drink could cause a definite invasion of another’s space.
  • Keep your comments positive.  It is not uncommon for relatives of a player or competitor to report hearing very unkind remarks about their loved one while sitting in the stands.
  • No profanity.  And remember, what you do with your hands can also be interpreted as profanity.  Never cheer when a player on the other team is hurt.
  • If other people are seated, avoid standing to cheer or to see the game.  The fans behind you don't want to miss any of the excitement.
  • Quiet sports need quiet fans.  When attending a golf game, tennis match, or other competition that requires concentration from players, remember to keep your voice low.
  • Mind your manners when you need to leave your seat.  Please, excuse me, and thank you are tried and true phrases.
  • Don't let trash talk escalate.  There is always a little "ribbing" amongst players as well as fans.  If you can't resist participating, keep it between fellow fans that you know well and also keep it good-natured.  Tread carefully, though.  Trash talk can easily lead to an altercation.
  • Food is part of the fun!  But keep it all in your space.
  • Observe the rules of the venue.  Most venues have their rules posted so be sure and read them.

When Attending a Sports Party or at Home with Family and Friends

If you can't attend the game in person, the next best thing is to gather some friends and make it a party!  Or make it close-in family and friend time.  
Most of the guidelines above apply to a sports party as well.  But in a smaller setting, negative or annoying behavior is more noticeable.  
Observe the guidelines for being a good host or guest.  You may also want to be mindful that:

  • Watching the event on television doesn't mean it is any less exciting.  But if you are the only one yelling at the television, think about toning it down a little. 
  • And if everyone is yelling at the television, it's good to remember that you are setting an example for the children in your home!
  • When alcohol is served, observing your limit can help you be aware of the great time you're having with your friends.
  • If you are being hosted, express your thanks for the occasion to celebrate. Following up with a note of thanks is always appreciated!

Win or Lose

One particular show of a good sport is when you congratulate the winning team or individual (or their fans).  Throw any sarcasm out the window and say with a smile, "Great game!" or "Way to go!"

It's also wise to stay clear of sports fans who may not be observing good sportsmanship.
The real challenge for anyone is to remember that respect is at the heart of winning, losing, and fair play.  But no matter how much excitement and passion you may feel about the current competition, the fact remains that it is still a game.
And a game isn't really a game unless everyone is having fun!

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