SBS Guide to: Enjoying a Viewing Party as a Non-Sports Fan

Written by :
Published on : September 11, 2016

 

So you’ve been invited over to watch The Game, but you’re not a sports fan. Don’t worry, you can still have a great time at a sports party if you’re not a fan. If you understand the rules. Like whatever match you’re about to watch, the sport of watching sports has points, rules, fouls, even penalties so egregious that you could be tossed out for them. But don’t worry, we’ve got the rulebook you’re looking for.

 

First of all, show up at least a half hour before game time so you can get to know everyone. And so you can get some nachos before they’re gone. Also because there will be no pleasantries exchanged once the game has started. Don’t take this personally. It’s not you, it’s game frenzy; a condition that creates tunnel vision and removes personal volume control. Remember: you’re at a game party with a bunch of sports fans. You’re hanging out with them, and it’s their rules.

 

Secondly, remember your basic p’s and q’s and bring something to the party. This tells everyone that even if you’re not a fan, you’re there to have a good time. Don’t be all Guy Fieri about it either; you can never go wrong with (at least) 12 cans of domestic beer or several bags of potato chips. Or both. That’s a great first impression.

 

american-beers

 

While getting to know everyone, it’s very important that you don’t pretend to be an expert. Resist the urge to parrot somebody else’s soundbite or headline as your own opinion. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with the loyalties of The House. (Defined by the host and usually two to three of their loudest friends; every House has it’s own specific opinion on the hometeam, as unique as a fingerprint and sensitive as a hair-trigger.) So if you recycle some sport writer’s opinion that the new quarterback is gonna “tie the room together” and the House thinks he’s an overpaid bum, now you’ve branded yourself against the House. Fact: among the fiercely loyal, there are no casual opinions. Don’t make any statements you’re not willing to fight for.

 

The flipside of this is don’t ask too many questions. Nothing annoys a fan quicker than having to explain everything. This isn’t a classroom, it’s the war room. You don’t know the rules? Google it. If you’re genuinely confused about something during gameplay, okay then you can ask. But only adorable kids, old people and girls with big boobs get to ask “which color are we rooting for?” Dig?

 

If the House’s team is playing well or winning handily, then spirits will be high. High fives will fly. Nachos will get destroyed. All you need to do then is follow the cardinal rule of sports watching and never disrupt the viewing of the game. Do not block anyone’s view. Don’t beg for attention during the game. Texting is fine, phone calls are not. Conversation is for commercials. And if you’re getting up for another beer, always ask the room who wants another. That’s just polite.

 

150812_EM_NFLTVFree

 

If the House team is struggling with the lead or starting to lose, things get trickier. Fact: one cannot soar to high highs without also falling to low lows, and if the House team begins to lose you’re going to feel the temperature of the room drop to a low, chilly hostility. When the cheers turn to jeers, your best bet is to go with the flow. Everyone’s angry? Then you’re angry too. That ref made a stupid call? He’s a fucking moron. The new quarterback isn’t playing well? Send him back to Jacksonville. The host just kicked a hole in his wall? Smash that beer bottle over your head.

 

If the House’s team is losing terribly, then your job becomes keep your head down and don’t draw attention to yourself. Many sports fans are superstitious by nature, and even the most level-headed person can be thrown off by high emotions and a few gallons of beer. Anything can and will be blamed for the team’s performance, including the outcome of the coin toss or the attendance of a non-fan at the party. Fact: you do not want a roomful of angry sports fans blaming you for their misery. That’s a lot like being the dinner guest at the end of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. If that happens, run. But don’t worry, it probably won’t.

 

When the game is over, don’t leave too quickly. Take a few minutes to celebrate or commiserate with the group. Offer to clean up a little. If you have to drive, make sure that you’re sober. But don’t hang out too long, and especially if it’s during football season, do not stay for another game. An entire day spent watching sports may sound enjoyable, but it’s really for die-hards only. The non-sports fan will eventually lose interest and want to move on with their day. Hopefully you’re sober and can leave right away when that happens. If you’re not, then you’re stuck. Overstaying your welcome risks turning a fun activity into an annoying distraction. Quit while you’re ahead and go out on top.

 

 


SBS Guide to Being a Good Fan

Written by :
Published on : February 17, 2016

 

 

Different sports have different customs and cultures but one thing is always the same: there will be some over-boozed donkey who makes things uncomfortable for the folks near by. Don’t be that donkey. Here is the ScoreBoredSports Guide to Being a Good Fan.

 

Some will argue that you must be a true die-hard and only support the teams from your home town. Others will go where the action is. These people are often branded as “fair weather fans” and new writer Phred did a great piece on this very phenomenon. I’m a home team only kinda of guy but I can’t deny anyone who really loves any team. I say to each their own. But no matter who you cheer for there are a few universal rules.

Don’t be a jerk

eagle-fan-bloody

 

The first and most important rule. Sports arenas (and local bars for that matter) are supposed to be safe places. Nothing ruins it faster than violence. I haven’t always been my best at sporting events but I don’t provoke people. I will however respond if you get in my face. I’m trying to be a better fan and person and we can all learn this lesson. Everyone is at the game because they care enough to pay money and travel to the site. Let’s all appreciate that level of enthusiasm and not hurt anyone. I’m looking at you, Boston and Philly.

 

Show your support

Alabama fans react after a score in the first half of an NCAA college football game against North Texas at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011. Alabama won 41-0. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

 

Doesn’t have to be an official jersey. Rock some team colors, make a clever sign, maybe even a tattoo if you’re crazy. Find your thing. At the least, show up and cheer. But carve out some space in your brain for a little obsession. Season tickets. Taking Monday off during football season. Dying your hair or beard to match the home squad’s uniforms. It’s fun to get involved.

 

Let go and enjoy

giants lady gif

 

The above GIF shows my Detroit Tigers losing but I see this and can’t help but smile. Sports can tap a vein of joy unlike anything else. That lady is rocking out and her happiness is truly contagious. Be a good fan, make friends. High five some stranger after the next big play. It’s an awesome feeling of bonding. You are now sports buds. A deep and weird connection only rivaled by siamese twins and psychic sorority sisters.

 

The real takeaway is that your fandom shouldn’t cancel out or encroach on someone else’s good time. I’m not saying the competitive nature of the game can’t bleed into the stands but chants are the only things you should ever be throwing. Adults, please set positive examples for our little ones. The game is still precious to them. Don’t let too many Bud Lights ruin that. Stay safe and have fun.

 

Go Team Go!

 

 


Fair Weather Fans

Written by :
Published on : January 14, 2016

 

 

There is a stigma in the sports world about fans who come around when the good times are rolling. They showed up to your Super Bowl Party last year in Patriots gear even though we all know they grew up in Atlanta. We’re pretty sure we saw them in 3 different jerseys during the NBA playoffs. They love the Kansas City Royals but can’t think of their favorite player’s name right now. These people are called “Fair Weather” fans and while their clothing may match the team currently in the spotlight, their chameleon-like ways are unparalleled. Many fanatics look down upon Bandwagoneers, accusing them of not being “real fans.” I am here today to argue in their defense and perhaps even admit to sometimes being one.

Palter comic
                                                                  Illustration by Natalie Palter

 

 

If we take a look at the four major American sports, (football, baseball, basketball and hockey) there are 122 professional teams that compete for a championship every year. Only four teams can win, meaning that 118 fan bases watch their team suffer a season ending loss in helpless disappointment. I suppose you could count conference championships as some kind of consolation but I don’t know many fans who brag about losing in the finals. Let’s broaden our definition of success and say that the final four teams left in each sport’s playoff have had a fan-acceptable season. The remaining 87% percent of teams have let their fans down, give or take a bottom-of-the-barrel team having a breakthrough year. Are we expected to stand behind a team for 16, 82, even 162 games and ache through loss after loss? Should I stop at the merchandise booth after watching “my team” get blown out and buy a hat? Is expensive beer and hot dogs enough of a reason to spend my hard earned cash on tickets?

 

Lions fans
                             Detroit fandom is bigger than sports. (Photo from positivedetroit.com)

 

I am a Detroiter above all other city-related commitments. Supporting Detroit sports goes beyond the teams themselves and into representing the city, waving the flag and manifesting a feeling of being home. Last year, I bought a Warriors hat. In fact, I bought two. I bought these hats for two reasons. For one, I liked the hats. Secondly, and more importantly for the context of this discourse, the Warriors are GREAT. They are fun to watch and their story excites me. I turn their games on and see an arena of yellow and blue erupt after Steph Curry hits a fadeaway jumper from half court and it beckons to me. It says “Come on, join us. This is how free time should be spent.” Now the Warriors might be the easiest sell in sports right now so let’s take a look at “fair weather” from another perspective.

 

It’s January and the NFL has been cut in half for the playoffs. The Lions are out. LA doesn’t have a team yet (but will next year!). I can’t just tune out – it’s the postseason. Come Super Bowl Sunday, the team I’m picking to win it all will probably have changed a time or two as teams continue to get eliminated. But if we were 100% ride-or-die on our teams, the NFL would gross significantly less as we approach its biggest game. Which brings me to what I think makes Fair Weather Fans most important: where they spend their money.

 

empty-seats
                                            4-76? Philly on the road to history in the wrong direction.

 

 

The Philadelphia 76ers are currently 4-36. That means I can reasonably assume that there is a 1-in-10 chance they will win. Am I buying a ticket to go see them? No. Jersey? Not a chance. Who is on their team, you ask? Exactly. And that should put a sense of urgency in everyone in that organization from the top down because money shouldn’t be coming in for them. Who is paying to see that? I’m actually shocked that it’s possible to lose that much and make money but Javale McGee is making $12M this year, and he isn’t even on the team anymore. The expectation to work all week, pay bills and taxes, then turn around and spend more of our precious income watching something bum us out in the name of loyalty is absurd. Get better, win games. Otherwise I’m going to watch the Splash Bros provide a pleasant break from my routine.

 

To spin this one more time, let’s step into a world I’m more familiar with – music. I don’t go to see bands who play songs I dislike. I can’t imagine anyone does unless their friend is the bass player. I watch bands I like and I discover new bands because their songs go on winning streaks. A band does not break through because they continually write songs that don’t catch on.

 

spurs
It’s always sunny in San Antonio: The Spurs have made the playoffs 18 years in a row, bringing them 5 NBA Championships (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE, via Getty)

 

 

I don’t intend to take meaning away from the love that exists between a fan and their team. But I do think when your team finally has everything come together and the winning starts happening, you’d be bummed to see the arena as empty as it was when you sat through that 13-game losing streak. And the fans showing up to watch your winning team are the same ones who were at the other winning affairs across town. We love sports because we love competition and we love competition because we love winning. Tell us all about how you were a fan way back when and think what you will about us jumping on the bandwagon. We are the party. We’ll be there when your team is good and when they’re not, we’ll go have our fun somewhere else. “Fair Weather Fans” are earned.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: Questions about Qualcomm

Written by :
Published on : September 20, 2015

 

For the last four years, Alex and I have traveled to whichever is the closest to Los Angeles of the Detroit Lions’ west coast games. We’ve done Candlestick Park in San Fran and twice been to University of Phoenix Stadium for Lions vs. Cardinals. As soon as the NFL schedule is released we look for our road trip game. Boom! Week 1 in San Diego for a battle with the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. I have never been to Qualcomm and after my trip I have a few questions.

 

First question is where are all the crazy fans? The face painted, decked out in head-to-toe team gear psychos? Where they at? I didn’t see them. 

 

The Michigang rolled into the tailgate lot and found a surprising amount of away team support. Maybe it was all the blue but it felt like there were tons of Lions fans. I’ve been to my share of hostile grounds aside from a few negative comments, the Charger locals were all chill.

 

If you look close in the picture below you can spot a few other SBS writers. Let’s play a game of ‘Where’s Joe and Michael*?’

*Michael is not from Michigan but still our friend so we let him come anyway.

Michigang

 

My next question is about the parking lot, there are several gates leading in but why isn’t there an “Antonio Gate?” I mean how many TD’s did Gates catch for the Chargers? Seems like a missed opportunity Qualcomm.

 

Qualcomm 3

 

God Damn it’s sunny there. Make sure you get tickets on the home side of the field or you are gonna get roasted. Even in the partial shade I had to rock a t-shirt do-rag just to keep the UV off my neck. Overall, I’d say the stadium has decent eye lines but it feels strange that the seating doesn’t start right behind the team bench.

 

Next question is what are they saving all that room for? It’s a complete waste of space. You could get more seats in there or move everyone a little closer. Poor planning Qualcomm. 

 

Qualcomm 2

 

Hey, haircut! Down in front. I feel like Kramer from Seinfeld was sitting in front of me. As the game continued into the second half I decided to venture out and get some snacks. Being in Southern Cali, I half expected sushi or at least tacos but I found the food options in the upper sections to be quite limited.

 

Where is all the fancy concessions Qualcomm? The new trend in stadium food is leaning into the craft and gourmet but all I could find was the usual suspects.  Step your game up.

 

I settled on nachos, a hotdog and two more beers. And yes, I dipped the dog in the cheese. This ain’t my first rodeo.

 

Qualcomm 1

 

The game was almost over and the Chargers were putting the finishing touches on a masterful and heart breaking (for us Lions fans) comeback. To my shock, many of the San Diego faithful were already leaving to beat traffic.

 

Last question: are you kidding me??? Your team plays great and storms back to win in your home opener/season opener and your fans don’t even want to stay to cheer on the squad? That’s nuts. I get leaving early if it’s a blowout but c’mon Qualcomm. Show some respect. 

 

Maybe I’m just bitter because my team lost but the flip-flop beach attitude of the Chargers fans really rubs me the wrong way. This isn’t Sea World, it’s the NFL and if they don’t care enough to heckle opposing fans and stay to the end of the game then maybe they don’t deserve a team. I know Los Angeles is ready and their fans kill people* in the parking lot. Now that’s commitment.

*SBS does not indorse fan on fan violence, just an observation on the levels of loyalty.

 

Overall, I had a really, really good time. The stadium and the fans are maybe too relaxed for my liking but the Chargers are a no-quit team and you gotta give them props for that. I just really, really wanted to win.

 

There is nothing worse than getting beat by someone who seems like they don’t care as much as you. Maybe it’s some sort of Zen tactic to drive people crazy. So I’ll leave you with the immortal words of The Anchorman, Ron Burgundy “Go fuck yourself San Diego.”

 

F Qualcomm

 


SBS Stadium Series: A Day at the Coliseum

Written by :
Published on : August 30, 2015

 

Late August is the perfect time to see a baseball game. Growing up outside Chicago, one of my favorite childhood traditions was the yearly baseball game I attended with my Grandfather. Always the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Always sometime in August. I guess that’s why I think it’s the best time to go. I guess that’s also why I’ve decided, while on vacation in Oakland, to go see a baseball game. The Oakland A’s versus the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. (I’m also visiting from LA, but my blood doesn’t run blue.)

 

Seen from the BART train, the Oakland Coliseum is an imposing structure. A walkway covered by chain-link stretches from the station to the stadium. It’s here I begin to see all the familiar faces from baseball games’ past. There are the Scalpers, offering seats from the corner of their mouths. Then the Capitalists, selling A’s hats and “Straight Outta Raider Nation” t-shirts.

 

oakland as - walk up copy2

 

There’s a long line at the ticket booth, so I purchase my seat on my iPhone. Waiting at the metal detector, I watch an Old Married Couple get waved through. The elderly always seem to be the most prepared at the ballpark; they’re packing sunscreen, binoculars, a bag of peanuts, radio, newspaper and seat cushions. You can’t take it with you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring it to an A’s game.

 

I buy a ten dollar beer and find my seat at the end of the left field foul line. My section is dominated by kids- a group of nearly thirty, being wrangled by three impossibly patient adults. Most are wearing A’s gear. There’s one kid who wears Coke Bottle Glasses, like the kid from “The Sandlot.” As the game starts, the kids start cheering. Oakland scores at the bottom of the first. One of the women patiently asks Coke Bottles to keep it down.

 

oakland as - 2nd seat view

 

One thing I am certain about: no matter where you sit at a game, there’s always an Opposing Team Fan sitting nearby. And they’re not going to let you forget it. A group of three Dodgers Fans start yelling, “Let’s go Dodgers!”

The kids fire back, “Let’s go Oakland!”

“Let’s go Dodgers!”

“LET’S GO OAKLAND!”

The Dodger Fans give up, but the kids cheer on. The Dodger Fans get up at the end of the 1st inning and never return.

 

During the 2nd inning, I finish my first beer. There is nothing healthy or clean about food at a baseball game. There’s a woman sitting nearby who looks like Christina Hendricks hiding behind sunglasses. She has a box with a Chicago-style deep dish pizza inside. She eats a slice, scooping up tomatoes and cheese with her fingers. I am in love. I go buy pizza at the concession stand.

 

Dodgers take the lead during the top of the 3rd. Behind me, one of the kids asks his friend, “Do you have any money? I’m looking for the cotton candy man.”

 

This has to be the guy they are talking about

 

4th inning. I find a better (shaded) seat. I feel surrounded by die hard fans in this new section. There’s a guy with a Walkman (!) on listening to the radio broadcast while he watches the game. On the aisle, a mother daughter team of Scorekeepers, each recording the game on their paper scorecard. I wonder what they do with those cards after the game.

 

One of my all-time favorite things happens next: the Jumbotron Race. Every sporting event includes at least one electronic race broadcast on the big screen. Three opponents, thirty seconds (or whatever) to glory. It’s the exact shot of adrenaline we need at this point, and they serve it up hot!

 

Oakland retakes the lead during the 6th. The Scorekeepers are pleased. I can hear the kids from my new seat.

 

7th Inning Stretch. The crowd begins to sing; I am ecstatic. The highlight of every Cubs game was leaving my seat to try and get a view of the legendary Harry Caray, leading the entire crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” He would lean out of the booth and wave his arm like a conductor, and we would shout and join the mass of voices broadcast over WGN radio.

 

Harry Caray at Wrigley Field

 

8th inning. On the field, I see a foul ball bounce against the seating wall. An A’s player picks it up. Several grown men jump to their feet, desperate for a souvenir. The player finally tosses the ball to a kid sitting with the adults. The men all sit back down, disappointed as kids.

 

At this point, the Earlybirds that are looking to “beat the traffic” have started to their march towards the exits. My Grandfather was one of these. I never minded leaving early, until one year we listened to a last-second Cubs comeback in the taxi cab outside Union Station. Every year after that, I always voted to wait it out and catch a later train back home.

 

The A’s widen their lead at the bottom of the 8th, and I decide that’s enough for me. Goodbye Coliseum, thanks for everything. (P.S. send the Raiders back to LA if you’re not doing anything with them.)

 

 



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