Being a sports fan is kind of like practicing Bird Law—it’s not always governed by reason.
We do weird stuff, and not all of it is perfectly logical to non-sports fans—or muggles, as I call them. Sports fanatics and appreciators of athletics adhere to codes, standards and practices that aren’t easily explained to the casual observer.
Why camp out in the tailgate field? I can’t believe people ask that question, but they do. And this list is here to attempt to clear up and explain some of the things we as sports fans have been doing for so long that they’ve become second nature.
They’re things non-sports don’t understand, and they’re our crosses to bear.
“Why would you want to go out and spend money to watch the game when you could just watch it at home?”
“Because it’s the Finals, and we can’t all just sit at home eating kettle corn and watching Franklin and Bash.”
It’s more of a young fan’s thing to go enjoy sports at a bar, but even older fans can at least understand why someone might enjoy getting crazy en masse in front of televisions with strangers.
It’s an extension of the camaraderie that comes with sports, and it only makes sense that people who don’t enjoy attending games in person also don’t like hanging out at Duffy’s high-fiving.
We don’t always take credit for things we have no part in affecting—but when we do, it’s our team’s success on the field of play.
Whatever it is you do as a fan to help your team win, whether it’s reverse psychology (“That was a terrible play. Why you do that?”) to changing spots on the couch, you are indeed affecting the way this whole thing will end.
Non-sports fans will never understand why you tell them to leave the room when your team starts losing. Clearly you’re asking them to leave because they’re responsible for your bad luck. As soon as they walked in, their mere presence shifted the karmic tides against you, and everything went to hell in a handbag.
It’s highly illogical, but it makes perfect sense. You know what I’m saying.
“How long is it?”
“How does it work?”
“So, whoever scores first?”
“Do they get to keep the coin?”
If you’re going to watch overtime with non-sports fans, prepare to be cross-examined like the main suspect in a murder investigation.
You can’t bunt when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter. Don’t admire your home run ball. If you’re winning the game, don’t shoot a basket as time expires.
These are rules of the game that won’t be found anywhere but in the minds and souls of those who respect the sport.
When your friends ask why Dallas Braden went off on A-Rod for the crime of stepping across his mound, they’ll nod their head when you say it’s a matter of respect—but they won’t see the big deal.
“You just go...anywhere?”
“Relax, dude. You’re making it weird.”
The trough is a beautiful thing if you’re the type of guy who can step off the high horse for a moment and appreciate the drunk fan’s version of Crossfire.
“How about you put that phone away, Dan? We’re at lunch.”
“How about you eat your Cobb salad, and I see if I can scam Brian into trading me Alfred Morris? Kid is blowing up.”
Explaining fantasy sports to someone who doesn’t care about regular sports is almost impossible. They think you’re playing a video game, and you have to walk them through the whole premise that what happens in actual games translates into points for your team.
Non-sports people love tailgates. They’re like a rowdy picnic to them, but does everybody have to be so loud?
Yes, they do. Tailgating isn’t a luncheon; it’s amp-up time for the game. It’s a time spent getting properly fueled with bratwurst, knockwurst and the finest middle-shelf brews money can buy.
Because after that, we’re going into the game, pal. This is just the beginning.
“Why are you yelling?? You’re up 8 points!”
(Slams fist onto coffee table) “It’s not enough!!”
You have to be a real sports fan to find some way to complain when your team is winning the game.
It’s not our best habit, but in must-win situations or competitions against vastly inferior opponents, we get frustrated when our players aren’t executing the game plan.
A win is a win, so they say, but domination is the only cure for the coronary we feel coming on when our team starts blowing the lead.
Non-sports fans go about their lives with a looser appreciation for seasons.
No matter what time of the year it is, non-sports fans never have to wake up to a day where their favorite activity is completely unavailable to them, and they don’t understand the depression that comes with your favorite sport not being in season.
Every day, non-sports fans wake up, and it’s “Off to work! Can’t wait to come back home and knit a sack to fill with my cat’s ashes! Maybe I’ll use that thimble Sharon bought me in Charleston...Another day, another dollop!”
They’ve never had to stand there dead-eyed in the morning waiting for the Keurig to finish while watching SportsCenter highlights they don't care about and think “100 days ‘til Midnight Madness...(bleep) me.”
The commercials at the Super Bowl are fun, but there’s a single moment I’ve pinpointed when people watching the game take them too far.
That point is the shush.
Only a non-sports fan will shush you during a broadcast of the biggest sporting event in North America for the sake of a commercial where babies dress up like old people and boss around monkeys who work on typewriters.
The game is the focal point. If you want to watch commercials all day, sign up for a focus group.
Pregame coverage, postgame coverage. Coverage of sports coverage.
You can’t miss a moment of it. Even the day after the game—a game you watched—you still enjoy watching the highlights from the night before, as it provides you with an excellent moment to flex the sports knowledge muscle and talk about your take on the contest.
Non-sports people, on the other hand, just sit there and leaf through their emails as you talk about Bosh’s flop to no one but yourself.
“Why do you hate them so much?”
“Because they suck.”
“Because...they’re located...close...to us.”
Rivalries are the wars of our fathers, so to speak—they’re bitter grudges that have been around for longer than we’ve been on this planet, and we’ll be damned if they die on our watch.
Non-sports people understand rivalry as a concept, but they don’t get the lengths to which we’ll go in order to guard our feuds.
Few institutions or entities inspire the kind of loyalty that’s exhibited on a yearly basis in sports.
That’s why every season fans of embattled franchises struggle on. Sure, there are casualties along the way—bandwagon fans who head south for the winter—but as long as the team exists, there will always be people in the stadium cheering on the Browns.
It’s a mystery to non-sports fans, who don’t get why a rational being would subject itself to such torture on a yearly basis. If the stove is hot, stop putting your hand on it, they think.
But they don’t understand that while the stove is hot, it’s our stove. And it’s all we've got.
Nobody can truly understand face-painters besides other face-painters, but that doesn’t mean sports fans can’t at least get where they’re coming from.
But if you’re not into sports, these people are might as well be drunk circus clowns lurking in the stadium, and they make you very uncomfortable.
To us, on the other hand, they’re just “that guy.”
Messing with the opponent from the stands is an art—an oft-misunderstood one, which like freestyle rapping, can turn people off to the whole form when done incorrectly.
Real sports fans appreciate a clever, clean heckler, but the casual sports fans are embarrassed.
Yelling “Hey, Sanchez! You’re a bum!” with a New York accent is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have at sporting event—but non-sports fans will just think you’re calling him homeless.
If you thought non-sports muggles don’t appreciate your need to watch the game at the bar, try explaining to them why you dropped over a month’s salary on a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl.
They see those tickets and think of all the seals it could’ve de-greased, or all the rent it could’ve paid. We, on the other hand, look at the tickets and think: