When going to a sports bar, it’s important to remember that we’re among like-minded people who come to watch sports. Other people are going to the same place at the same time to do the same thing as you. Some of them are even fans of the same team as you. It’s actually an amazing phenomenon when you think about it. That’s why it should offend us when people are oblivious to the “bar liberty” of fellow patrons or disrespectful to the staff who serves them.
We all realize that it’s not cool to be terrible to other people. No one wants to be “that guy.” Even that guy would agree that he’s terrible. Girls think he’s gross, and guys want to wipe the bar with him. Unfortunately there are times in the past that I have been that guy. Pretty much all of things I urge you not to do are things I have been guilty of in the past, so you can trust me that it’s just not worth it.
It’s time we start acting civilly to each other every day on a small scale. Let’s start with behaving at the sports bar.
1. Do Plan Ahead
If you’re like me, you’ve looked at your team’s schedule and plotted out where you’ll watch every game. If you don’t suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, it’s still a good idea to know where you’ll watch your team before the first whistle sounds. Gather your crew and make a plan ahead of time, and show up before the game starts.
There’s always that guy who shows up with his wool beanie and girlfriend in the third quarter and is flabbergasted as to why there’s no place for them to sit. I know brunch is important, but you can’t have your eggs Benedict and eat it too. Prioritize your life. If sports are important to you, make moves to be sure you’re seated happily with a good seat and a drink before the game starts.
2. Don’t Be a Hater/Whiner
image: LA Artist
Sometimes the Super Bowl that your team doesn’t play in is more enjoyable than one in which your team doesplay in. (Jets fans, keep reading that sentence, as this is an existential nightmare for you.) Care about the game and cheer on your team, or don’t care about the game and root for who your friend is rooting for. It’s also okay to be objective, so long as you remain fair.
Just don’t root against your pal because it’s fun to watch him cry if his team loses (guilty on both accounts). Also, for the love of God, don’t go to a bar if the game is important enough to make you cry. No one is forcing you to go, and you’ll only end up feeling stupid the next day as you recount how you acted like a total maniac over something you ultimately have no control over.
3. Do Open a Tab
image: Photo Inc.
Watching football on Sunday can get out of hand very fast when your team is winning. The same is true when things aren’t going so well. Opening a tab will help you keep track of what you’re drinking and will put the bartender at ease that you’re aware that you have to pay when you’re ready to leave. Be generous and buy a round for your friends every now and then. If your friends aren’t total monsters, they’ll reciprocate. If you’re drinking to forget, pay in advance.
4. Don’t Get Too Loud
The fact is, despite painting your face and wearing your jersey with your own last name on the back, you didn’t score tickets to the game. You’re at a bar, not an arena. Keep your cheering at an appropriate level and proportional to the magnitude of the game.
Nothing is worse than being in a bar and one guy alone is screaming at the TV of an Orlando Magic vs. Utah Jazz regular season game before the all-star break. Sure, championship games take all bets off the table, but even still, always maintain a level of decorum and respect for the establishment you’re in.
Most of the time, the funny line you’re going to yell out loud thinking you’ll bring down the house with laughter ends up not being funny at all. So either run it over again in your head, or better yet just bite your tongue and let everyone else enjoy the game without your commentary. You’re not Al Michaels.
5. Do Respect Other Fans
image: Media Photos
It’s no secret that some fans despise fans of other teams. Rivalries exist and tensions can run high. But always refrain from being insulting, and keep banter light and somewhat playful. The first person to insult the other with an unrelated barb always looks like a jerk.
If a fan of another team insults your quarterback, don’t lash out and insult his or her mother. Keep things civil and even try to be friendly. After all, it’s just a game, so try not to be petty. Some of my best friends like teams that I wouldn’t root for if my life was on the line, Sure, that makes them a little questionable in my book, but their moms are still really nice women.
6. Don’t Block Sight Lines
This is simple. Don’t stand or sit in front of other people. Period. Granted, there are a lot of bars that are standing-room only for the big game. This obviously makes it difficult not to stand in front of other people, but you can avoid being a total jerk by at least acknowledging their presence and figuring out a way not to block their view of the game. Get there early or otherwise move on—they were there first.
7. Do Make Sure the Bar Has Food
The best way to ensure you’ll wake up on Monday morning after Sunday football with zero recollection of how you got home is to start drinking at 1 o’clock on an empty stomach. Find out ahead of time if the bar serves food. If it doesn’t, find out whether you can bring or order food to the bar. Or grab some Dunkin’ Donuts before the game. Anything is better than the air sandwich you didn’t eat for breakfast.
Most sports bars are equipped with some sort of bar food. It’s not always Zagat rated, but at least you can fill your stomach and avoid being drunk by the end of the first quarter.
I’ve survived a triple-overtime game after eating one chicken wing. One! It doesn’t seem like something to brag about, but I still count it as one of my greatest achievements ever. (I have no idea who was playing or even what sport I was watching.) Ultimately, filling your stomach with more than just Coors Light is important. Don’t try to be a hero—eat a hero.
8. Don’t Get Too Drunk
It’s a bad look showing up to any bar too drunk to be served. But showing up to a sports bar for a game you care about when you’re too wasted to remember it is even worse. Some people show up sober but jump out to a fast start in the pregame with shots and are hungover by the third quarter.
My rule with shots is kind of like how Red Auerbach would light up a cigar on the bench when the Boston Celtics secured a victory: Only bring the whiskey out when things look like they’re in the bag and the game is won. Well, unless the game is going really badly—then just drink all the whiskey.
9. Do Skip the Bar and Stay Home
image: Elena Leonova
I’ve never understood sports fans who pay for cable only to go to bars to watch a televised game. First of all, you can disregard all of the don’ts that I just mentioned. You can sit wherever you want in front of whomever you want, yell like a maniac, dance like no one is watching, drink until you actually like Peyton Manning (impossible for me), resort to rituals, turn the game off or cry. Whatever!
And second, you can put to use all of the recipes you’ve been waiting to try. Have some buddies over, mix up some Old Fashioneds, and make a pot of chili. Or try this ritual that I still insist brought home the Stanley Cup for my squad in 2011:
The Cup Procure one shot glass of your choice. It should have some meaning. Fill with spirit of your choice. Drink when your team scores. Fill with spirit of your choice. Drink when your team scores. Repeat.
Warning: Do not do this while watching a basketball.