Over the weekend I had the pleasure of catching a game between the Canadiens and Kings at Staples Center. Going into the game, I had every intention of watching the French-Canadian fans that flocked to see the Bleu Blanc et Rouge. I planned on talking about how different the atmosphere is for an Original Six team on Hockey Night in Canada and the average weekend game. Unfortunately, the game didn’t go as planned.
On any level, the game was a complete and utter train wreck for anyone NOT rooting for the Habs. I’m not sure if the Kings played a poor game or the Canadiens played an effective road game, but the better team certainly won on that particular night. Instead of the actual game, the much more memorable part was a few obnoxious fans sitting a few rows behind me. Over the course of the evening, they managed to say more words without actually saying anything than I’ve ever heard in my life. Worse yet, they managed to basically YELL back and forth to each other throughout the entire two and a half hours of the game. By the middle of the 3rd period, EVERYONE’S patience had worn thin.
We’ve all dealt with that fan before. You know the guy that has had a few too many cocktails before the game—and just keeps on drinking? The guy that should have been cut-off by the concessioners before he was given his 17th Bud Light? The guy that is stumbling ON HIS WAY to his seats? Yeah, we all know “that guy.”
Just like we all know “that guy,” chances are we’ve been dangerously close to BEING that guy for night. In the past, I’ve shared seats with a guy that regularly brought in a bottle of rum to go with his Coke. There have been games when I’ve had more than one beer while enjoying a game and I’ve even had a few drinks BEFORE I went. But then again, I’ve also watched plenty of games with a giant, overpriced soda.
My question is simple: Is it OK for a fan to act like that? He was passionately cheering his team when they scored. He LOUDLY chanted the opposing goaltender’s name (albeit with poor timing) after the Kings scored a goal. He tried to start the “Go Kings Go” chant numerous times. And at the end of the day, he paid for his ticket like everyone else.
But at some point, does the price of admission only buy you so many rights? During his obnoxious vocal exhibition, he managed to annoy people in all corners of the section. I did a fairly decent job of tuning the guy out, but the guy behind me wasn’t as successful. In the middle of the 3rd period, we were this close to catching our own little middleweight bout during a commercial break. Let’s just put it this way: the guy behind me looked exactly like the drill sergeant from Celebrity Fit Club. Who would you put your money on?
Aside from the drill sergeant look-alike, he was pissing off the season ticket holders sitting in front of me that kept looking back, the guy that brought his two kids that was visibly uncomfortable, the people next to me, and their nachos. Yes, even their nachos were annoyed.
As it got progressively worse throughout the game, the fan who was sitting directly in front of him got an usher to do something about the vocal fan. In response, I heard him scream: “I’m cheering for my team! I’m allowed to cheer for my team!” It was a textbook case of the old saying, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.”
I know at some point this devolves into a little bit of a freedom of speech debate. Technically, the only thing that he was doing wrong was being annoying. If there was a law that banned obnoxious people, then Mike Milbury would have been locked-up years ago. We’re talking life sentence here people.
But there’s also the common courtesy debate. It’s like the drunken guy that is pushing into you at a concert and says, “I’m just trying to have a good time man.” Like me being in his way when he’s a stumbling drunk is impeding his good time. At some point, can we just say back to them, “I’m just trying to have a good time too?”
Today, I want to ask everyone this question. Whose side do you take here? Do you take the side of the fan that is annoying everyone else (but isn’t violent and paid for his ticket like everyone else)? Or do you take the side of the fan that is watching the game, paid for his ticket and has someone screaming in his ear?