Are you a sports fan? Well, hold on to your hat, because I'm about to give you some groundbreaking, never-before-heard advice on how to be a better sports fan. I daresay that following this advice will make you the best sports fan you can be, not to mention a better human being. Ready? Here goes.
Don't tell other people how to be fans.
That's it. That's the list.
Certainly in the months and years you've spent being a fan of a certain team, you have absolutely perfected it. You. You are the pinnacle of fandom. Compared to you, everyone else in the stadium--nay, the world--is sucky.
You may find this hard to believe, but other fans don't fan the way you fan. As inconceivable as it may be, that does not mean that these other fans are doing it wrong. Your insistence that it is otherwise is not welcome. If you persist, you risk going from "annoyance" to "asshole."
Here's what happened.
Brandi and I returned to our beloved alma mater, Bowling Green State University, for the football team's home opener against VMI. The BGSU Falcons ended up winning the game 48-7, so clearly the VMI Keydets were overmatched. Now, in the early stages of the game, there was plenty of cheering whenever the Falcons did something good, which was often. As the game went on and the outcome was less and less in doubt, the cheering cooled off. The crowd thinned out and quieted down. This was not to the liking of one dude in the front of our section, who repeatedly waved his arms at those of us behind him in an effort to get us to stand up and make more noise.
Before I go any further, let me say that, in what I've said so far, I've been this guy before. I've been in crowds that I wished were louder and more enthusiastic, and I've done the arm wave thing. I will say that I only remember doing it a handful of times, for really close, really big games. However: I get it. You feel like the crowd should be up, you feel like you can influence them in that direction, you start flapping your arms. Cool.
So needless to say, I didn't hate the guy's message, although I did think it was a little unnecessary as the third quarter was winding down and the Falcons were up by 34 points. The game was over. Still, if that was as far as it had gone, it would have been fine. That was not as far as it went, though. After a certain length of time had passed in non-loudness and numerous arm-waves had gone unheeded, dude's cup runneth over and he started berating those of us lucky enough to be in the superfan section for not supporting the team, not caring, not being fans. Because of course he did. Brandi and I had noted previously that we were sitting in front of one player's parents and another player's grandparents, but hell yeah, dude, these people don't care.
Anyway, after a certain amount of abuse tossed our way, a few words were lobbed back in dude's direction, which, surprisingly, did not defuse the situation. Dude doubled down on his argument, more words were exchanged, and, with the third quarter closing and the game well in hand, Brandi and I decided it was time to go.
And this is exactly my point. Along with violating Wheaton's Law, dude trying to increase support for the team ended up driving two fans from the stadium, thus defeating his own purpose. And I'm not an early leaver--I go to a lot of sporting events, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've left before the final gun, and that includes many blowouts (both wins and losses for my team), crazy weather, and what have you. And I'll note here that I'm not knocking people who leave early; I'm just saying that staying until the end is what I like to do. You want to scream your face off at what ended up being a 41-point blowout? I respect that. Actually, I think it's kind of awesome; it's just not my thing. Me, I'll be behind you, kicking back with a brewski, enjoying the sunshine and the fact that my team's got one in the bag. If that bothers you to the point where you actually have to be a jackass to complete strangers, it seems to me that you're the one with the problem.
EDITED TO ADD: On the bright side, it was an otherwise spectacular day. I'll be writing about the good part as time allows.
EDITED (AGAIN) TO ADD: Writing about the good part has now taken place and can be found here.