This weekend I spent nearly eight straight hours in a bar for the first time in my life. I walked out with my body aching, voice dwindling, and a friendlier than normal disposition. I was proud to finally brag to my college buddies about my first bender . They were quick to point out a true World Cup pub viewing isn't the same thing.
The time I spent at the highly regarded Nevada Smith's this weekend (for S. Korea-Greece, Argentina-Nigeria and U.S.A.-England) was my first true soccer pub experience .
With the 2010 World Cup threatening to be the first tournament where you don't need to argue at the bar to get it on the TV , many folks might be in that exact position. If you intend on finding a bar early Friday (or if you support a team other than the U.S.... whenever your team is playing), it's important to note a few basics about a true soccer pub experience.
(And... don't be so quick to say, "I live in _____, it's not a real soccer pub." Even Syracuse, N.Y. had some raucous crowds for the U.S.-England match last weekend).
1. Chanting and singing is not only encouraged, it's mandatory.
Yes, watching any of our major U.S. sports in a bar involves yelling. It's not uncommon to hear "How 'bout them Cowboys?" or "OH-IO" in a bar somewhere during the fall. Yelling and singing/chanting are different, though.
Soccer requires more consistent and varied verbalization (and occasionally pitch or rhythm). "U-S-A, U-S-A" is just the beginning, you need to dust off your elementary chorus sheet music and prepare with "God Bless America" and "America The Beautiful" ASAP. Once you have the basics, only then can you move on to more advanced heckling chants (and when applicable, songs..."London Bridge" for instance).
2. Soccer is only 90 minutes...
...so during the run of play don't cut through the mass of fans gripped to the pitch in order to grab beer or hit the bathroom. It's aggravating, can potentially prevent vision of a goal and it puts you at danger to violate the rules of acceptable beer spilling (only during post-goal celebration, duh).
That's why pregame can last up to an hour and halftime nearly 20 minutes. Manage your time wisely.
3. Dress appropriately
It's common knowledge that sporting events and bars where you watch sporting events are the only acceptable locales for adults to wear jerseys (Right? That is common knowledge, right?). Soccer allows even more flexibility with these guidelines. Not only can you transfer the jersey from stadium to pub, but bringing flags, face painting, homemade shirts, and even patriotic flag shorts are acceptable when soccer is on.
Take the opportunity to dust off those theme party items you still have in the closet for one reason or another. It's not everyday you can turn embarrassing into supportive. Call it a World Cup miracle.
4. Practice good diplomacy
Finally, with the world's most global and communal event, you need to practice minor communal courtesy. For instance, don't sing and chant over another country's national anthem being played (it's hard enough to hear it over the vuvuzela anyway).
On the local level, practice international relations in regard to television proximity. If your team isn't on, it's OK to stand a bit further back and plot your forward ascent before your country's kickoff.