Metro-East Living

How to behave at a football game

Q: My husband and I like going to our local high school football games. We try to find seats behind people we think will sit through the game rather than jump up and stand in front of us all the time. Sometimes, we are lucky and sometimes not. Sometimes, the game is rather boring and there isn’t anything to stand up about so there is no problem trying to see. I’d rather move to other seats when people stand up in front of us too much. My husband would rather stay, and eventually he will say something like, “Down in front.” It usually works, but they all turn around first before they sit down. I think it is embarrassing, but my husband says he’s doing the proper thing. Is he? What are the etiquette rules for a football game?

A: Here are some basic etiquette rules for everyone when attending a football game, baseball, softball, hockey or soccer.

Arrive in sufficient time before the game starts so you can take your seat or find a seat. There is nothing more distracting and inconsiderate than when a spectator arrives after a game has started. The late spectator should wait until the first play is over before taking his or her seat.

In order to keep from distracting those seated in the same row, or those behind you, the best time to head to the refreshment area is when there is a time out, at the end of a quarter, after a touch down, or at halftime.

Hats are to be removed during the playing of our national anthem. That includes both men and women. The right hand is to be placed over the heart. The eyes remain focused on the American flag until the end of the anthem. Singing the words is appropriate; talking is not.

Booing a player, a referee or a coach is inappropriate.

The use of profanity, obscenities and continuous extra loud yelling or cheering is inappropriate.

Standing up cheering while holding a beverage is inconsiderate. No one wants to get a soda or beer shower from a sloshing drink.

Standing up or jumping up in enthusiasm before critical plays, during critical plays or after is appropriate. This is what an excited fan does. However, each spectator should remember he or she is only one out of many who want to watch the game. Therefore, unless it is the end of a nail-biting quarter or the end of the game, it is good manners to sit down after each big play.

On occasion, if a spectator becomes so excited about the process of the game and seems to be standing for the majority of the game, and is blocking the view of other spectators, it is permissible to politely ask the standing spectator to please take his or her seat. A suggested approach is this: “Hi. I know this is an exciting game and you are a great fan, but if you could please sit down a bit more, it would help us see more of the game.” If the response is negative or ignored, rather than initiate a confrontation, move to another seat, if possible. Or, if the majority of fans appear to be standing up, then standing up and cheering may be the thing to do.

Back to your husband’s comment of “down in front,” perhaps he could add a “please.”

Q: We had new neighbors move in last year about this time and they brought over some apples from their two apple trees. Even though the apples were really small, they gave me enough that I could make two apple pies. I gave them one and they loved it. She just dropped off some of these scrawny apples again this year and told me again how much she loved the pie I made last year. So does that mean I am not locked in concrete to make a pie for them every time they give me a few apples? Can’t I just tell them thanks?

A: Certainly, you should say “thank you.” but if you have the time, isn’t it worth making an apple pie when you have such nice neighbors?

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Maureen Houston, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to