I’m not the first person to create a list of this nature, but after spending Saturday night in the corner of the end zone at the Oregon State-Arizona State game, I came to realize not very many people understand the rules of the bleachers.
There are certain commandments that must be followed when watching a game live. These are necessary for the betterment of the whole, to allow the greatest joy for the greater good.
By following the following rules, you will not only ensure the people around you are able to better enjoy the game, you’ll be sure you enjoy the game more yourself as well.
I give, you five rules of the football game attendee.
Rule No. 1 – Tailgate. To properly enjoy a football game – be it college or pro – you need to spend at least an hour prior to kickoff tailgating. Dish up a bowl of chili. Grill a burger. Have some chips and salsa. Wash them all down with a couple of beers. Stay away from the hard stuff, especially if you plan on tailgating for an extended amount of time. If you are in charge of the tailgate, it is important you have other college football games playing on the radio, at the bare minimum. Encouraged is a mobile television set showing a game broadcast. If there is not a football being thrown, someone should be playing washers or ladder ball.
Rule No. 2 – Be in your seats at least 5 minutes before kickoff. While it may not be important for you to catch the opening kick, the people surrounding you are not going to be happy if there’s a steady trail of people waltzing to their seats while they’re trying to watch a third-down conversion attempt. Get there before the national anthem has been played, that way the awkward dance of walking around people on the bleachers doesn’t disrupt the game.
Rule No. 3 – You don’t know as much as you think you know. Anyone who has watched a game live has sat next to the guy who believes he’s a coach. If you haven’t been around that guy, you’ve probably found yourself telling people why Mike Riley should have punted on that fourth-and-one when he was down five with 1:25 to play. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so stop talking. It’s OK to give an opinion or two throughout the course of the game. After all, college games last about four hours now. But limit them. We all know these people love to hear themselves talk. But the people around them certainly don’t. It’s obnoxious. Stop. If I want terrible analysis of a game, I’ll listen to Mike Mayock.
Rule No. 4 – Maintain yourself. The only thing worse than the guy who thinks he knows more than everyone around him is the guy who is three levels farther passed buzzed than everyone around him. Don’t be this guy. The only time it might be permissible is if you’re in the student section at your team’s game, but that is only because you are surrounded by equally hammered spectators. Hammered guy manages to combine the awful qualities of the guy who thinks he knows too much and the guy who likes the F-word more than Chris Rock. This is the precise reason to avoid the hard stuff while tailgating. In the long run, it will help you avoid falling on the people in front of you, and it will help keep a father from explaining a list of curse words to his son when all he wanted to do was show little Johnny the excitement of a live football game.
Rule No. 5 – Have fun. A football game is an excuse to do a lot of things you can’t do elsewhere: High-five strangers, jump up and down and scream for minutes straight, chant bull—- with thousands of strangers, create an instant bond with someone based on the color of shirt their wearing. It can be the best community in the world. But at times it can be less than bearable too. That’s why you need to follow these rules.
Kyle Boggs is on Twitter. Follow him at @KyleKBoggs