Commentary

Stand, cheer, drink some beer

A reasonably official guide to your rights and responsibilities on game day

Updated: January 27, 2010, 8:37 AM ET
By Carmen renee Thompson | ESPN The Magazine

This feature appears in the Feb. 8 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

YOU'VE GOT A RIGHT TO ...

GO WHEN YOU GOTTA GO

Who could have guessed nature's call could lead to a call to a lawyer? In 2008, a fan who said he merely took a potty break during the seventh-inning singing of "God Bless America" was promptly booted from Yankee Stadium. "If a club conditions something like that," says Matt Mitten, director of Marquette's National Sports Law Institute, " it has to provide notice up front, put it on the back of the ticket, make announcements and spell out the consequences." Because the Yanks didn't, the desperate fan took home $10,000, and the seventh-inning stretch now extends all the way to the can.

Mateusz Kolek

EARN A LITTLE RESPECT
"We train staff to not bring their personal baggage to work with them," says Paul Turner, director of event operations at Cowboys Stadium. "And if a staff member has a stressful interaction with a guest, we give them time to cool off." Well played. Three years ago, a Portland Timbers soccer fan claimed a stadium cop twisted her arm, addressed her in "a condescending and mocking tone," then handcuffed and jailed her for nearly six hours after she asked for his badge number. She was cleared of two misdemeanors and pocketed $15,000 after settling a civil suit.

ESCAPE A PLAYER'S WRATH
Barriers and guards can't always protect us from angry jocks. Most leagues fine and suspend offenders, but the NBA went so far as to institute a conduct code after 2005's Malice at the Palace. It mandates "players will respect and appreciate" fans while expecting the same. Too bad that didn't happen at the Home Depot Center last July, when MLS star David Beckham confronted a rowdy rooter. (The fan was ejected; Becks got a $1,000 slap.) Still, Mitten says, "Clubs have a duty to protect fans from harassment or assault."


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