The NFL Fan's Faux Pas Handbook

by Jeremiah

Every football season, professional football fans find themselves feeling the alternating currents of excitement, anticipation, hope and disappointment. Football, as everyone knows, is not for the stoic or the faint of heart. Regardless of whether your team wins or loses, the emotional roller coaster known as the National Football League still has its unwritten codes of proper fan conduct — and some expressions of loyalty and devotion are less welcome than others.

The NFL Fan's Faux Pas Handbook
Image by Rajiv Patel from Foter

Here are a few handy tips and identifying markers to keep you in the good graces of those around you the next time you cozy up to a bleacher seat in a professional football arena. So, go ahead—paint your face, and don some trendy retro sports clothes from the golden age of your favorite team. Justmake sure you aren't committing one of these cardinal sins.

The Fantasy Football Fan

For many NFL football lovers, fantasy football made a great game even more interesting. Sadly, there's a dark side lurking in the hearts of some fantasy footballers: They don't care about football! They may feel heavily invested in individual players' outcomes (i.e., their outcomes), but whether or not their team wins is beside the point. For the fantasy football fan who isn't a real fan: Football is a real game played by real people on a real field in real time and space. If the only reason you pay attention to the score and players is because you're interested in your fantasy ratings, you're committing a serious faux pas, and you're likely to attract the chagrin of any true football fans sitting around you.

The Buffet Fan

The average football game lasts three to four hours, which most human beings (who are not infants) are capable of enduring without food or drink. While it makes perfect sense to build up your hunger and thirst for the satisfaction of eating a ballpark hot dog and drinking an ice-cold beer while you cheer on your favorite team, a professional football game should not be treated like a trip to an all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet. Everyone's allowed to get up a couple of times for popcorn and to use the bathroom without riling up their football-watching neighbors, but if it happens more than four times, you're asking for trouble.

If you find yourself frequently getting up and down, while repeating, "Excuse me," and "Sorry," to folks who'd rather wet their pants than miss a punt return, and you start to find that you're becoming intimately familiar with the shapes of their knees and heads because you've run your body and hands into them so many times, you need to reconsider whether you're that into the game at all. Maybe you should just head to the food court at your local mall.

The Other Team's Fan

In another universe, dressing up in your favorite team's colors and cheering loudly for them from the opposing team's stands results in your team winning, and you being lauded as a hero. In this universe, nothing is farther from the truth. When you seat yourself knowingly and blaringly amongst the opposition, you ruin a good time for everyone. While it's true that sometimes the only seats are deep in enemy territory, you can still be a good sport about it. Take a page out of the Good Book and Do unto others: Be fair. Be polite. Don't complain.

The Jerk

Recently, 49ers fans committed a major faux pas when an opposing player went down with a serious injury. During the time he was being tended to and even while he was being carried off the field on a stretcher, 49ers fans engaged in the wave. While it's certainly possible the fans meant no harm, the insensitivity it showed caused even the 49ers' players to speak out against the action. Here's the rule about injuries in football: If play stops because someone is hurt, fan behavior stops, too.

The Cheating Heart Fan

This fan is also known as the Fair Weather Fan and is properly identified through certain disloyal characteristics such as:
  • Leaving early when their team is down.
  • Cheering less or attending games less when the team is in a slump or is having a losing season.
  • Pulling out a book or magazine when their team loses the lead.
  • Constantly checking their phone instead of keeping their eye—and heart—on the game.
Football isn't a perfect sport; no one expects its fans to be perfect, either. However, a little good etiquette goes a long way. Committing to remain faux pas-free will ensure you get along well with your neighbors at any arena and that you give yourself an opportunity to perfect the art of being a great fan.

About the Author: Jeremiah Plenge is a contributing blogger and die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan.

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