People coming to and from their seat at any sporting event are just part of going to a game. Yet, we have all been to games when people abuse the good nature of the fans sitting around them by leaving and coming to their seats at random. These fans have forgotten the basic common courtesy that should be shown for the fans they are sitting next to at games. Likewise, many fans become overly critical of fans leaving their seats at all.
If you have ever been to any BYU sporting event you know the favorite saying of the older fans is, "SIT DOWN!!" Followed by a sob story about why they are never able to see their beloved Cougars playing football/basketball/baseball/squash/etc. because of terrible fans like you.
There are certainly two sides to this issue, here are some ground rules for both sides to abide by.
1) During the first part of the 1st quarter/half there shouldn't be any problems with letting fans into their seats at any point in the ball game. It doesn't matter if there is a break away basket or a touchdown pass in the air. If it is early in the game, the fans should be allowed into their seats without being forced to wait for a stoppage in play, although the arriving fans shouldn't abuse this right.
They should not pull the get settled and go technique. That is when fans will go to their seats and drop off their jackets and then go to get food. That kind of in-and-out gets on peoples nerves. You are already late to the game, get your concession house in order and get them before you sit down. Also, arriving fans should try and time their arrival with a stoppage in play. If you can wait for a stoppage in play to go to your seat, that is appreciated by the fans sitting around you.
2) After the first half of the opening period of play, fans should wait until a stoppage in play to enter their seats. It is rude to force people to stand, blocking the view of fans behind them, during the action of the game. What ever the circumstances were for being late to the game are lost and so is the right to go straight to your seats. Wait for a stoppage. (Free throws in basketball counts as a stoppage in play.)
3) Once you have arrived at your seats, stay in your seats until a stoppage in play. Unless there is some kind of emergency (at which point all bets are off and you should just go) it is only common courtesy to wait until there is nothing to see on the court/field to leave your seat.
Now the exception to this rule does come when there are small children involved. (Small children include all children under the age of 12; once they hit the 12 they are old enough to control themselves.) If you are sitting around a family with young children at a game you are obligated to go out of your way, as a sports fan, to make sure that child has a positive experience at that game. (This includes the unwritten rule of giving a give-away item you win to a young fan sitting around you, as will be discussed in an upcoming Sports Etiquette article.) Fans should be more forgiving of the children going in and out of their seats. This is an item that shouldn't be (and often is) taken advantage of by the family of the small children. If it is taken advantage of, than it is the right of the fan sitting next to the family to ask them to either go out the other way, or to control their children.
4) If there is someone on your row that has difficulty standing, try to find a different way out of your seat. Normally there are two ways to get in and out of your seats. If at all possible try and find a different way out.
5) During stoppages there should be no complaining about the number of times people leave their seats. If they aren't affecting the way you view the game, the understanding that you will need to stand and allow people to enter/leave should be accepted.
6) Just stand up to let people get to their seats. Nothing is more awkward than being force to climb over the top of people going down narrow rows. Especially at the Energy Solutions Arena (worst arena name EVER! Every time I write the name, it is insulting). When Larry H. Miller built the arena he built it to get the most fans possible in that building. With the extreme slant in the arena it can be hazardous to do "the-crawl-over-the-top" technique.
Basically, when in doubt, just try to be a good fan to sit next to at the games. We are all there to have a fun time, and nothing can ruin it faster than sitting next to someone who seems to be allergic to their seats.
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