Everyone has a team they love and support. What I learned on how not to tick off the home team when visiting their turf.
I am a diehard University of Southern California Trojan football fan. Have been since I was 12 years old. My parents started it. That was the college where they went to school, met, and fell in love. They had USC football season tickets for over 50 years. I’ve gone to my share of remarkable USC Trojan football games through the years. I go to watch. To cheer. To make some noise. Whether it’s in person or on television, I yell. I scream. I jump up and down. I am a supportive, diehard USC Trojan football fan. Last weekend I did something I had never done before: I went to a USC football game on the road. Where? Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah. The opponent? The University of Utah. Both ranked teams. Both teams needed the win to stay on top of their division. A football fan’s dream. We got our tickets from a Utah football fan that sat behind us on the plane to Utah. The tickets were in the Utah end zone: the mighty, rambunctious, crazy Utah football fan north end zone. I was told their football fans were as passionate; as loud; as intense as I was. And I was also told the Ute football fans could be rude, profane, and intolerant of visiting football fans. If I was going to enjoy the game my way – and not get ridiculed along the way — I had some pre-planning to do so as to not be “one of those” obnoxious visitor types.
5 Steps to Being A Gracious Visiting Football Fan
1) Smile. I smiled at every Utah football fan I passed in the stadium. And there were a lot of Utah football fans. This game had the highest attendance EVER for their team in that stadium. When you are a visitor, don’t walk around with a scowl on your face, ready to pounce. Wearing a smile is a much better way to approach the enemy. 2) Introduce yourself. As soon as I got to our seats, I shook hands and introduced myself to everyone around me. I told them I was a vocal fan and that I was looking forward to a good game. They replied the same. They were anxious to share when they were the visitors at our home stadium, the Coliseum. We found common ground. 3) Stay seated when they have the ball. Everyone was on their feet for most of the game so it was tricky at times to see the plays. I made sure to give them their space to cheer as they pleased when their team was on the move. It paid off when it was my turn to yell and scream for our good plays. Courtesy goes both ways. 4) Don’t disagree with your neighbor’s opinion. There were plenty of official calls to disagree on and we each saw them our own way. Why argue over something no one was going to change their mind with. 5) Shake hands when it’s over. Someone has to lose. After it was all said and done, we all congratulated each other for an exciting game. And man was it a great game. Unfortunately, USC lost in the final seconds. The Utah football fans went nuts. While I left the stadium sad and dejected, at least I left respected (and in one piece) by the crowd around me. I had become a gracious visiting football fan. Who do you root for? Have you ever attended one of their away games? How were you treated?