The first full Sunday slate of games in a new NFL season is upon us and Bengals fans will pack Paul Brown Stadium to see the home team take on the division rival Baltimore Ravens.
If you’re going to the game you’ll see plenty of enthusiastic fans decked out in their orange and black. Among them you’ll come across some very specific fans.
Here are nine types of fans you can bank on encountering at the game.
The Section Leader isn’t just a huge fan, he feels it’s his responsibility to coach everyone in his area to match his level of enthusiasm. This involves as much turning around to face the crowd as watching the game itself. He’ll flap his giant foam fingers or big orange Hulk hands up and down trying to get you to stand up for every big play, certain that he and the rest of Section 237 can be the difference between winning and losing.
Of course, not everyone wants to stand up on second-and-four midway through the second quarter. Section Leader will be very disappointed in that and will likely dish out some stink-eyes and head shakes. Don’t worry though, he’ll get over it. He means well, it’s just that he only knows how to express his passion by annoying you the whole game.
Local Tough Guy
This fella came to the game planning on starting trouble. He’s the worst person you can get stuck sitting near. He has tied the Bengals’ success or failure to whatever personal insecurity and issues he has and his answer to everything is trying to start a fight. He wants to fight fans of the opposing team. He wants to talk smack when the team is doing well and is willing to make a fight out of it. And if the team starts losing, he will fight anyone, including the ushers and police officers sent to get rid of him.
How do you deal with him if you become the target of his wrath? You can counter his primal, ape-like instincts and show your teeth, make yourself look bigger and make direct eye contact, but that’ll definitely induce him to fight, so don’t do that (unless you are also a Local Tough Guy). You can stay perfectly still like you’re trying to avoid a T-Rex in Jurassic Park, but he’ll just ramp it up more to get a rise out of you. Your best bet is to quietly let an usher know about his antics and see if they’ll get rid of him. The bottom line -- Local Tough Guy is the worst.
Unlike Local Tough Guy, Visiting Agitator doesn’t come necessarily looking for trouble, but he does enjoy pressing buttons. He will wear enemy attire and will taunt when the road team does something well. Local Tough Guy sniffs this person out like a raccoon finding a trash can full of White Castles. If you’re stuck somewhere between the two, go find a vacant seat, because it will get ugly.
If you want to neutralize Visiting Agitator, chat with him about his city and team. Say nice things. He very well may loosen up and not be a jerk.
The Failed Family Fun Day
This is not a person but rather a group in a scenario.
Mom and dad thought it would be fun to take the kids to the game. After spending a small fortune for tickets, they realize this was a bad idea. Not only are the kids bored and restless by the long TV breaks after every change of possession, they also want to go to the concession stand… a lot. After several exorbitantly priced hot dogs and beverages, it’s off to the team shop. It’s time to negotiate Junior down from something painfully expensive to only moderately expensive. A $20 fidget spinner suddenly feels like a good deal.
Back at the seats, the kids now want ice cream. It never ends. Mom and dad are out hundreds of dollars and have enjoyed almost nothing on the field. Oh, and they cringe every time Local Tough Guy teaches the kids some new words while threatening to pummel a woman who had the audacity to wear a Joe Flacco jersey. Dad can’t ask him to stop lest he become Jeff Goldblum waving flares at the angry T-Rex.
Failed Family Fun Day is a debacle for so many reasons.
Mr. Know It All
You can find Mr. Know It All at all sporting events and he’s sitting right behind you.
It doesn’t matter that he’s in Section 502, eight miles away from the field. He sees holding penalties better than any official on the field. He knows when the quarterback should have read the mike linebacker. He knows a bootleg should have been run instead of a bubble screen. He played football in high school and is good at Madden, so his credentials are undeniable.
You will be immersed in his expertise since he will shout all of his thoughts to make sure those on the field hear him (even though they won’t). Oh well, at least he’s better than Local Tough Guy.
This person was willing to pay hundreds of dollars for tickets and $30 to park, but he drew the line at high stadium food prices. Sack Lunch brings a full picnic’s worth of food to avoid paying for a $7 hot dog.
As you suck nacho cheese off your fingers and wash it down with an overpriced bucket of Mountain Dew you’ll wonder whether Sack Lunch's peanut butter and jelly sandwich, celery sticks and baggie of Pringles are a satisfying game day experience. But don’t cry for Sack Lunch. He's already won the Super Bowl of frugality and will sleep well at night knowing he was never gouged at the concession stand.
The Seat Weasel
You paid $150 for your ticket. The Seat Weasel paid $60 for his. Yet somehow he is standing next to you and consistently nudging you into the row so he can have your space. He’s a parasite who spent for a nosebleed seat but feels entitled to have your club-level spot.
Sometimes he’s there when you arrive, making himself at home in your seat. But it’s easy to get rid of him before kickoff. If he mysteriously arrives once the action starts and inches in while the crowd is cheering, it’s a much more subtle infringement of your paid personal space. If he succeeds he’ll brag to friends and co-workers the next day about how he just moved down to a better seat.
Don’t let him do it. Be a jerk and tell him to take a hike. He’ll plead for you to just be cool, but don’t. Send him on his way and he’ll become someone else’s problem. He’s one guy you hope crosses Local Tough Guy. It will be a beautiful sight if they are escorted out together.
There are plenty of Jersey Devils at every game. They’re the folks who just can’t get it right with jerseys. They include the following:
Wearing a painfully outdated jersey. It’s cool to wear Boomer Esiason or Anthony Munoz, but Jordan Shipley’s jersey never should have been purchased and no one should be wearing it, other than maybe Jordan Shipley.
Wearing a flea market knockoff. It’s nice to save money, but when the shade of orange doesn’t exist in the big box of Crayolas and the font on the back looks like something a third grader cut out of construction paper, you just look silly.
Wearing your own name on the back. No, Marvin Lewis is not going to call you down from the upper deck to play tight end. You’re not on the team. Stop it!
If you can’t do jerseys right, just don’t do it. It’s OK to go with a hooded sweatshirt, T-shirt or jacket to support the team.
Fred isn’t there to see the game, he’s there to stare at his phone to see how his fantasy players are doing in other games. He might claim to be a Bengals fan, but rest assured if he has the Baltimore defense on his squad, he’ll be happy with Andy Dalton throwing pick sixes all day.
Worse yet, he’ll share how his team is doing with anyone in shouting distance. Whatever you do, don’t engage him. You will absolutely not care that Melvin Gordan is helping him win his game in his work league (he'll tell you about multiple teams).
It makes no sense why Fantasy Fred bothers to go. But much like all the other fans, he doesn’t have to ruin your fun. Support your team, have a good time and tune out all of the buffoonery. Oh, and most importantly -- stay away from Local Tough Guy at all costs.
Dave Niinemets is a Digital Enterprise Editor at WCPO.com and oversees sports content for the digital team.