Etiquette for Fan Sportsmanship

Etiquette for Fan Sportsmanship

By: Tina Hayes and Indigo Silva 

We know what it’s like to be on the winning team and we know what it feels like to be on the losing side. It’s all part of the game, just like being a good sport.

It’s not just the players and coaches that are expected to show good sportsmanship, but the fans too.

Being a good sport shows you care about the game. We all cheer for our favorite teams and wish them good luck on the field of battle. In most sports, players often shake hands before and after the game, so fans should show the same respect in the stands.

As professional, college and high school football teams battle on the field, here are some tips to help you be a “good sport” before, during  and after the game.

Parking & Seating

  • Arrive on time. Showing up late to a sporting event is not only a personal let down because you have missed part of the game, but it can be very disruptive to other fans in the stands as you search for your seat.
  • Park in a legal spot, no matter how late you are. Don’t take up more than one space. You don’t want to come back to your car and find out it has been towed or vandalized by an angry fan over something that could have been easily avoided.
  • Find your seat quickly and be polite. Try not to block someone’s view and if someone is blocking yours, politely let them know (Sometimes seating can be tight, so don’t always expect a clear-line view).
  • Be courteous of those around you; don’t take up more space than needed, especially for big games where a large crowd is expected.
  • Don’t steal other fans’ seats. If you see that someone has left an item of clothing or bag in a seat, it most likely means that the seat is taken. Don’t move the item to make room for yourself or others. Wait for the person to come back to their seat and ask permission to switch or move down, if possible.

Cheering For Your Team

  • Avoid obscene language. Foul words can make those around you feel uncomfortable. You never know who is sitting near you and you don’t want to say the wrong thing and insult someone’s child, friend or mate.
  • Leave the coaching to the coaches. Coaches can sense when their players aren’t doing well, so you don’t have to make it known from the stands. Let the coaches do what they are paid to do. Same goes for game referees.
  • Never cheer when a player is hurt, it is disrespectful and rude!

After The Game

  • Avoid making eye contact or even going near someone who appears angry over the outcome of a game and is looking to start a fight. You know the kind.
  • Don’t make negative remarks about the outcome of the game or the players, especially the players.
  • Congratulate players and coachesfor a good game or plays you thought went well. Your positive feedback may help them feel better about their performance, win or lose.

Always be aware and follow the rules of the game and venue. If the sport requires silence during plays, such as a tennis match, be considerate. Welcome fans from opposing teams to your pregame events; don’t exclude them because they don’t favor your team (I know that one can be tough at times).

When you show good sportsmanship as a fan, you not only display good etiquette, but you also help keep the event fun and entertaining.

Photo credit: V. Sheree Publishing (On location at an Oakland Raiders game)

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.