Good sportsmanship is defined as “playing by the rules” or “playing fair.” And the end goal is showing respect – respect towards your team, your opponents, your coach, your fans and, yes, ultimately your sport. But the practice of good sportsmanship is not limited only to those in the field or the court. It applies just as well to those in the stands and in the bleachers – yes, the spectators!
Whether you’re watching gold-plated sports events – such as the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Daytona 500, Masters Golf Tournament, Boston Marathon, Kentucky Derby – or simply cheering your local soccer, cricket, or hockey team, how you behave and carry yourself could affect the outcome of the match. And you can be sure it will greatly impact your fellow spectators’ enjoyment of the game.
Now, the rules of good spectator sports etiquette may be mostly unwritten, but they are stamped in the actions and behavior of all fair-minded people.
Follow the Golden Rule – Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you. That includes hogging seats and being selfish with space…blocking the view of those behind you…talking loudly to your friends or on your cell phone…making a mess with your food and drinks…bringing an infant or toddler who does not yet know how to behave…getting up from your seat incessantly and bothering other spectators in your row…and other inappropriate actions.
Do Not Use Obscene Language – Go ahead and cheer. Even yell if you must – if you think this’ll encourage your team. But do not shout your comments, use foul language, or make obscene gestures…even if a coach makes a mistake or an umpire or referee makes a wrong call. This could disrupt a game or confuse players. And your fellow spectators deserve better – they came to watch a game, not hear you rant.
Say No to Violence – Don’t start it. Don’t join it. Hooliganism in spectator sports – sometimes influenced by the aggressive, hard-contact nature of the game – has only brought on death and injuries. To avoid being in such a situation, monitor your surroundings for any sign of troublemakers. Devise a quick-exit plan. Avoid overly crowded events (better to watch the game from home if it’s televised) and certainly don’t bring along your kids if you think there’s any chance of violence.
Maintain the Quiet When Required – Some sports, like golf, tennis, billiards, or chess, require concentration. So turn off your cell phone, don’t take any pictures, and otherwise avoid causing any distractions that may spoil a potentially winning move or play.
Don’t Take it Personally - It’s great to cheer on your favorite player or team. But it’s just a game after all. Be magnanimous when your side wins or is ahead. Be gracious when you lose. Congratulate the winning players (if expedient) and spectators around you, and encourage those who’ve lost the game.
Practice Good Grooming – Watching sports events is a close-contact activity. And personal hygiene and a neat, tidy appearance can make a big difference in whether a pleasant, enjoyable experience can be had by all. A person who smokes or has smoked before taking his seat may be bringing the odor of tobacco cigarettes with him. Best to avoid smoking before coming.
Better still, if you must smoke, switch to the smoke-less, odor-less, and ash-less alternative – Green Smoke® electronic cigarettes. A great and authentic smoking experience – without inconveniencing yourself or bothering fellow spectators – just adds to the enjoyment of watching your favorite sports event!