Fan Etiquette 101: Guidelines Every Fan Should Know

ZA_211306155I’ve been thinking recently about all of the sporting events that I’ve attended, and the behavior of the fans at those events. More specifically, those events where the fans acted outside of the realm of what most consider common decency. Some fans seem to have lost any kind of moral compass when they are in public. To follow are examples of such behavior, along with guidelines that all fans should follow when cheering for their team.

I have attended sporting events in many different cities over the years, but I have had more than one unpleasant experience in one city that I will not mention. In my many visits to this city, I have been accosted, physically attacked and threatened just because I was not a fan of the home team. Those fans conducted themselves as if they were never taught how to act in public.

Heckling, as we all know, is a common occurrence in sports. One incident that occurred a couple of years ago was beyond low. The home town fans heckled an opposing player about a relative that had died from an accidental overdose while recovering from an injury. It is one thing to heckle the other team, but to bring family members into the intended verbal assault is a hit way below the belt. It was disgraceful, dishonorable and despicable. Other fans nearby tolerated the incident as well – If you’re nearby and you tolerate it, you’re guilty too.

Above all, fans should remember to have a little class. With that in mind, here are a few guidelines that I feel fans should follow when attending a game:

Treat visiting fans the way you would like to be treated when visiting another team’s home building:

Don’t verbally, and certainly not physically, assault visiting fans – it’s not necessary and there is nothing constructive to be gained. Remember that visiting fans get their image of your city from how they were treated during their visit. Also remember that your city needs visitors to come and spend money, and your favorite team certainly benefits from the revenue as well.


When on the road, respect the building you are in:

When you are a visiting fan, remember that it’s perfectly cool to cheer on your team. This is even expected by the home town fans. It is bad form to heckle and boo the home team and home team fans. You don’t have to sit on your hands – cheer when your team takes the ice, when they score and when your goalie makes a big save. Just don’t jeer the home team; save that stuff, if you feel like doing it, for your team’s home games.

Arena courtesy:

Be on time. It is disruptive for the people around you when you show up after the game has begun. Instead of watching the game, they have their view of the game interrupted while you make your way to your seat.

This leads us into the next part. There are rules in place in hockey arenas prohibiting fans from walking around while the puck is in play. These rules are both for your safety, it’s never fun to be blindsided by an errant clearing attempt, and also for the enjoyment of the fans – nobody wants to miss the game because they can’t see around someone that is ignoring the rules. Please limit your movement to stoppages in play.

20140208_19350001Making your way to the concession stand during a stoppage in play and see an old friend? That’s great. Just don’t stand in the middle of the hallway to talk. Please move to the side to not disrupt the flow of traffic.

Now that you exchanged greetings with your friend, it’s time to get some food. Please don’t cut in line. Yes, this also goes for ticket lines as well. Believe it or not, I have seen adults do this. How are children supposed to learn how to act properly if they see you do this?

Some people attend games as more of a social event than for the enjoyment of the sport. This is fine, and thanks for supporting the home team, but remember those around you that paid to watch the game.

20101225_21595101If you are more interested in talking than watching the game, consider moving your conversation to the hallway. With the music that is played and crowd participation, the arena is a loud place to be. Your voice will likely carry while trying to talk over the crowd noise – consider those around you that want to concentrate on the game.

Please do not block the view of those around you. I’ve seen many people who like to stand up, look around for people they know, then wave, point and yell to try and get their attention. Remember again that people paid good money to watch the game and not you.

Keep an eye on your children. Don’t allow them to hit those around you with toys or run around during the game. Not only does this keep those around you from enjoying the game, it also puts your child in danger. Don’t forget that a frozen piece of rubber travelling at a high rate of speed can cause serious injury.

Consider the sensitivities of those around you. While profanity is officially against the rules, we all know as adults that it does occur. If you use profanity and find out there children around, tone it down. Also refrain from making slurs.

This list could go on, but these are some good guidelines to follow in order to make sure that both you and everyone else in attendance can enjoy the game. Just remember, it never hurts to be a good person.

Editor’s Note: Les Stockton is a longtime hockey fan, and has followed the Tulsa Oilers since 1965. He is in his sixth year as a photographer for Pro Hockey News.

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