A few weeks ago I wrote about the basic unwritten rules fans should follow to ensure they do not upset the hockey gods. The fundamentals included waiting for the whistle to get up, not screaming profanities at the game and being kind to the less knowledgeable fans. Now that the basics are understood, it is time to go on to discussing the more advanced unwritten rules. Following these rules is not only respectful and the decent thing to do, it will also help ensure the Hockey Gods don’t bring their wrath down on your favorite team.
What Not to Wear
Adding bling to your favorite team apparel is a fun and unique way to show off team pride and spirit. However, nothing worn should obstruct the view of anyone else sitting around you. This includes:
- Head Dress – While it is cool that they are called the Chicago Blackhawks, wearing full feather-head dress in the seats is unnecessary and frankly annoying. Blocking the view of others is disrespectful and not cool. If you want to wear it on the concourse or outside, fine. Same goes for goal helmets and the like. You may think it is funny, but unless you are sitting in the last row, this too prohibits other fans from seeing the action on the ice.
- Mascot/Other Costumes – Please leave such dress to the team professional. They not only likely have the best costume, they understand how to avoid getting in the way of others during the game. Think it would be cute going as say The Easter Bunny adorned in a hockey sweater? Think again. Santa Claus may be allowed provided you don’t behave like the drunken old St. Nick.
What Not to Bring
Going to see a hockey game is not the same as tailgating outside a football stadium. In fact, some stadiums don’t even allow tailgating (Boo United Center – Chicago!).
- Read Stadium Restrictions Before Attending Game – Every stadium explicitly states on its website what is allowed and what is prohibited. It varies by team as well. Do yourself and those in line behind you a favor and read it before trying to enter the stadium. This includes bag/purse size, type of camera allowed (typically removable lenses are not allowed) and allowable containers. Remember, everyone is subject to search in this day and age. Trust me, you don’t want to argue with security regarding that plastic bottle tied to your thigh that just contains “water.”
- Signs and Banners – There is a reason teams have a “make your own sign” in the concourse of most arenas. It provides a maximum size that allows creativity without extending into the personal space of those around you. If the sign is wider than the seat of those you are with, or higher than those behind you, leave it at home. Again, the idea is to be respectful of those sitting around you.
Courtesy & Respect
Everyone has a mother. When it comes to be courteous and respectful, act like she is always watching.
- Control Alcohol Consumption – Almost everyone has horror story or two about the belligerent drunks sitting next to them that try to get in a fight or spill alcohol all over someone. Don’t be that person. I’ve seen men as well as women do things that would easily shame their mom. Save getting fallen-down drunk for the safety of your own home.
- Don’t Be a Sore Loser – It never ceases to amaze me how fans from opposing teams get all hot and bothered over a game. If the team you are cheering for loses, accept that with the same dignity and grace as the players. It is never okay to throw things at opposing fans nor referees/players on the ice. Someone could get hurt. Anyone getting caught doing such a thing faces being banned from the stadium as well.
- Don’t Be a Sore Winner – There is no need to rub it in and verbally abuse those fans whose team has just lost. They paid good money and deserve to be treated the same way you expect to be treated. Again, look at how the players behave. In fact, if it is an elimination game in the playoffs, remember the great tradition of the handshake line. If those who have left it all out on the ice can act like decent human beings, so can you.
- Social Media – A few words about social media: Just because you are hiding behind a keyboard safe from the reach of another human being, doesn’t give you license to be a jerk. There is a pretty clear line between this:
Don’t cross it. Save such off-color remarks and commentary for the bar, or when you are face-to-face with actual people.
In summary, it would seem that common sense is all that is needed to ensure that everyone can enjoy the game and all that comes before, during and after it. If the thought of your mother being upset isn’t enough to make you think twice, then know this: The Hockey Gods are always watching, and they have a long memory.
Respect and decency to all fans of the greatest sport in the world!