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September 7, 2001

by Bill Hogan



I don't know about you, but I am ready for some football.

Going to the stadium to watch your favorite team this Sunday (or Monday)? For your information, I offer a few excerpts from the often overlooked and underused "Official Fan Handbook" written by a 'seasoned' ticket holder.


Please print this out, keep it with you at all times and refer to it often.

1) The guy that drives to the stadium doesn't pay the outrageous parking fees. Somebody in the back seat, cough up the bucks. And have exact change - paying with a large bill could result in traffic backing up all the way to the expressway.

2) If you plan to barbecue in the parking lot, make sure the guy/gal in charge of filling the propane tank has an I.Q. over thirty. There's nothing worse than eating a raw porterhouse because you can't fire up the grill. (Take note, that's porterhouse, not filet minon. No self-respecting tailgater eats filet minon).

3) Take note of the number/letter/color of the parking area where you leave the car! Don't be the next in a long line of morons who have to wait until lot empties out in order to spot your car. (The general rule of thumb is, never put yourself in a position where exactly what you are doing can be turned into an entire Seinfeld episode).

4) Scout out the nearest bathroom on the way to your seat. A well executed potty-run can be accomplished without missing a play. (Note to first timers: if you experience any kind of bladder control problem, I urge you not to wait until half-time to go to the bathroom).

5) Sunglasses. Don't underestimate the value of a good pair of sunglasses. A football field, endzone to endzone, runs north-south. About half the stadium seats face west. If you're in one as the sun goes down over the west side of the stadium, and you don't have sunglasses, it'll be pretty much like a deaf man listening to the game on radio.

6) Go to the beer stand and the bathroom as often as you like, but, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave (or return to) your seat in the middle of a play! A cardinal rule that must never be broken. When the ball is snapped, the last thing I want to see is some fat butt squeezing by my face. Remember, the twenty-five second play clock is your friend - USE IT! Even the clumsiest of first timers can make it from their seat to the isle (or back) in twenty-five seconds.

6A) If you are sitting at the end of the isle, be prepared to spring up and down like a jack-in-the-box as people pass by you going to and from their seats. As long as they follow rule number 6, there's no reason for you to get pissy about it either. Your at a football game, not on your couch. If you want to sit uninterrupted for the duration of the game, go home and watch it on TV.

7) Know your limitations. You don't want to be the drunken idiot asleep in your seat when the TV camera zooms in with John Madden taking pot shots at you (like he's never misjudged his buzz).

Are you getting all this? I hope so, there will be a quiz later.

More Do's and Don'ts:

Don't - take the points and bet on the visiting team. People will know. (It's obvious when you're the only one in your section begging the home team quarterback to "take a knee").

Don't - wear that 'like new' Ryan Leaf jersey you got last Christmas to a Chargers game.

Don't - wear anything with the word 'Sanders' on the back to a Redskins game. (You can wear it anywhere in the Detroit area if you wish).

Do - bring binoculars, but only to scout out the cheerleaders between plays.

Do - bring a radio - the commentators will often know what the latest referee huddle is about long before the folks in the stands.

Don't - assume that, because the person sitting next to you is female, she knows less about the game than you do. That person could be my wife or sister. Both of whom are walking football encyclopedias.

Don't - get on the shortest beer line. It's like going to the supermarket, the shortest line never moves.

Don't - leave before the end of the game in order to 'beat the traffic'. You're not a genius and this isn't a national security secret. Half the fans in the stands leave early to 'beat the traffic'. That's right, Einstein, that means the stadium is only half full when the final whistle blows and you'll be battling the same amount of people (without missing a play).

Do - print this out and use it as a handy reference this Sunday. (It may be in your best interest - as well your safety - to memorize numbers 6 and 6A).


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