Dear Fans: DON’T BE A JERK!

Street Talk Dear Fans: DON’T BE A JERK!

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I love being a Ravens’ fan; the purple color, the statistics, the anticipation of getting to the stadium and TiVo. I like spouting out a few stats here and there~ not to look like a know it all, but some of those football facts are really interesting. There is still a ton about football I do not know, and I cannot hold a conversation and watch the game. I’m too busy concentrating on the various calls and conversions and such. TiVo has always been my safety net because I can go home and watch the game and hear what the analysts have to say. I am a gloriously optimistic fan who can find the good in any play.

To that end, I may be naive in my comments; "Oh great job Landry! You stopped the opponent before he made a touchdown." So he should have been there sooner to keep the ball out of the red zone, but, I’m going to guess here that my guy # 26 knows what his job is and doesn’t need me telling him. I love being a Ravens’ fan. There are mistakes that are made and risks that are not tried (or they are and it’s a FAIL), but these guys are human.

While I am not saying people should mimic my Suzy Sunshine attitude that things could always be worse, I am going to put it out there that some of the fans that come to M&T Stadium need a refresher course in common courtesy.

ETIQUETTE FOR RAVENS’ FANS

1) BE ENGAGING:

Ravens games are a common bond for us. Say hello to your neighbors around you. You will be sharing 3 hours of emotion with them. These are the people you will be turning around and high-fiving or making conspiratorial head shakes to when a play is blown or a ref goes blind. Also, while you are saying your hellos, look at where the kids are. My kids love going to Ravens’ games with my husband. They understand every little nuance of the game and will say things like "why are they going for the blitz? The other team is predicting it?" In no way will that question ever come out as an insult to the players. I don’t want my kids hearing that a player ‘is an overpaid, F-ing piece of sh!t’ because he missed catching the ball or missed catching the opposing player. It’s not so much the bad language as much as it is the carry over. My kids have heard that guy say stuff like that to the refs on their own sports teams. Bringing your road rage self to the game is not engaging. If you are not going to be civil in your opinions, go home and scream at the TV.

2) ONLY BOO THE OTHER TEAM:

Really? Do I really have to state this as etiquette? Apparently so, because there are Ravens’ fans who boo THE RAVENS! Are you kidding me? Grow up. Really! Take your immature, middle school self out of the stadium and go home. We all stared at the TV in horror and dismay when the Mayflower moving van drove out of the Colts’ training facility on the middle of that snowy night in March of 1984. We heard Irsay say he would not take the Colts out of Baltimore. He lied. He stole our team. We booed Robert Irsay, and that, my fair weather, clinging to the band wagon, pompous windbag of a seat neighbor, is the only time it will ever be okay to boo our own.

3) DO NOT BE A BAD HOST:

There are a fair amount of fans from the opposing team that come to M&T Bank Stadium. I actually think that was part of the point of making the stadium in such close proximity to I-95. My optimistic view saw the stadium location as a great big welcome sign. The Ravens play some incredibly good teams. We may not like those teams; we may feel certain players get special treatment that is in no NFL playbook I’ve ever heard of. The point is, those good teams make for some great football. If you look at these football games objectively, there is awesome playing on both sides. I went into the game against the Browns this weekend knowing it wasn’t going to be a shut out, but I honestly did not expect to see the Browns’ offense be as strong as it was. When Peyton Hillis was not even slowed down by Landry as Landry held on to him and did not let go, that was amazing. Really. Hillis was a steam roller. That comment is spoken out of respect for the game. That is actually a great time to turn to your Brown loving section mate and say, "wow, he’s a force to be reckoned with." No one will think you’ve defected; you are being gracious.

4) FORGIVE AND FORGET:

Everyone has a bad day. You’ve had plenty, and so have I. Bad days are an equal opportunity mood squasher. It doesn’t matter what your profession or your income level is. Some days life just gets in the way. You may have heard by now that the game the Ravens played against the Bengals was not Flacco’s best day ever. He had a bad day. It happens. When Flacco came out onto the field on Sunday, some people actually yelled out for Flacco to go back to the side line and watch Bulger show him what a real QB does. Are you kidding me? Really? Weren’t you the one that blew that deal that would have earned the company millions? You felt a little shaky after that didn’t you? You knew that if you had the opportunity to show the people what you were really made of, you’d do it differently the next time. Or did you forget? Football players aren’t allowed to make mistakes? Seven and eight or more figure incomes makes them goof proof? Grow up.

5) GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP IS IN THE SEATS:

The Ravens must "play like a Raven." I was cringing in my seat when Ellerbe acted like a bad sport with his touchdown delivery. I put my head in my hands when Mason missed the ball and then threw it in the air causing a delay of game for his temper tantrum. I even yelled out "be a professional." The fans, the so called 12th man (which I love, by the way) are told to "don’t be a jerk!" It’s accountability for yourself and how your actions carry over to the people around you. We must "cheer like a Raven." You do not have the right to bring your hateful self into the stadium with a huge chip on your shoulder because you have paid a fortune and want to see your money’s worth. Guess what? You do get your money’s worth. You see, we have a team in Baltimore. We have a whole community that benefits from the Ravens being Baltimore’s football team. There is a ton of good that comes from having a National Football League Franchise in Baltimore again. You’ve been getting your money’s worth for years Going to someone else’s stadium to watch your team is a daunting task. Are the home team fans going to be nice to you? Are they understanding of the fact that you as a person are not bad, you just have questionable taste in teams and so the insults they hurl should not be to you directly?

I have read in the Baltimore Sun’s editorial section, letters from fans of other teams who are appalled at the awful treatment and threats they feel they receive from Ravens’ fans. They say they will never come back to Baltimore again because they do not feel safe.

Let’s face it…there are idiot Ravens fans. Maybe they have come across as threatening. But as a guest, you are entitled to the same 12th man rule which is to tell the Purple Shirt Guy if you are being harassed. Truly. If you are so fearful being at the Ravens stadium that you have to write a letter to the local paper and say that you are never, ever coming back, telling the Purple Shirt Guy is not being a tattle tale. But let’s approach this honestly. Are you being a good guest?

ETIQUETTE FOR RAVENS GUESTS

1) SHOW YOUR SPIRIT WHILE REMEMBERING WHERE YOU ARE:

The city where the stadium is located is your host. You are its guest. Keep that in perspective. Please dress like the fan you are! I have "Bead Guy" in my section. Ravens fans know exactly who I mean. He is the really nice guy who wears, what must be 15 lbs of beads around his neck. He also wears a camo fishing hat with tons of buttons pinned on it. He’s always on TV, and you know why? He’s a super nice guy. Bead Guy met his female match in "Orange Mohawk Lady" for the Browns. She looked awesome! She had on Brown’s leggings and other real unusual fan gear that begged for people to look at her. We did. Bead Guy and Orange Mohawk Lady saw each other and shook hands. They had each met their opposite, and they worked it. They didn’t interact during the game; the game was truly a nail biter and no one wanted to look away. They spoke as they were leaving, though. I don’t know what they said, but I did hear them laugh.

2) DON’T LOOK FOR TROUBLE:

Two rows down and to the diagonal from me was a Browns fan who was dressed very similarly to how I would have dressed if at an away game. She wore a brown athletic skort and a brown top with a Browns orange and brown chunky bracelet with matching dangle earrings. She looked adorable. She knew what she was up against, and she was very engaging with the Ravens fans around her and the Browns fans in our section. She smiled and laughed and admitted that she was probably going home a loser and for the people within earshot to go easy on her. It would have been adorable if she had left it at that. The Browns led in the first quarter with a field goal. It was a bit of a shocker, I’ll admit, but when the visiting team scores before the Ravens, I like to call it "being a gracious host by letting the visiting team get some numbers on the board."

So adorable girl stands up and turns around and mentions to the Browns fans a few rows behind her that those 3 points might be the only scoring they did. Then adorable girl starts taunting the Ravens around her and is suddenly no longer very adorable. She turns around with her back to the field and starts laying into the Ravens. Predictably, a Ravens fan tells her to sit down and watch the game or go home. She sits in her seat. The Browns get the ball. She lifts up her arm with the Browns chunky bracelet. I actually thought that was cute. What she did next leads me to etiquette point number 3.

3) KEEP YOUR FINGERS TO YOURSELF:

As a guest, you have no right to flip off your hosts. Unprovoked. You instantly go from being "adorable fan" to "embarrassment to Browns fans and women fans in general nightmare." I’ll admit, it does not roll off the tongue, but it is what it is. Why this woman felt the need to turn around with her back to the field again and flip the section off with both hands is unknown. The Browns fans that were sitting behind her told her to "sit down and quit acting like a f-ing moron."

Thank you. On behalf of all the Ravens and Browns fan, man or woman, thank you for telling her that.

4) KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF:

Ray Lewis is a murderer? Terrell Suggs is a thug? All Ravens are thugs? Really? Is that all you have? Keep it to yourself. If you are going to bring up the past, be careful because you are guaranteed to look like an idiot. You can have opinions on real situations; that bantering can be a little fun. I’ll bet Bead Guy and Orange Mohawk Lady could have done that. I’ll bet they could have talked injury reports and why the secondaries are so good and things like that.

If you are a good guest and are being treated maliciously or in a threatening way, by all means do something about it. Talk to Purple Shirt Guy. Write a letter to the editor of the Sun. But think back carefully before you jump into "anyone associated with the Ravens is a thug" rant. Come to Baltimore because you are the best fan ever for your team; do not come to start trouble. Your team wants you and needs you to root for them; you give them the energy they need.

Being a good fan is the best way to be the 12th man for your team.

 

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Jen Carle

About Jen Carle

Jen Carle is a native Baltimorean who was thrown like football as an infant, classmate of many Baltimore Colts’ kids, Mayflower Van boycotter and Ravens lover within the legal limits of stalking. When she is not irritating Captain DEE fense’s fans with her picture of kissing his cheek at a charity event, Jen works at her husband’s busy medical practice in order to support her writing habit. She is the author of Finally Winsome; A Face of Prozac; Becoming Waldo; and My College Boyfriend Dumped Me for You; Can I Add You as a Friend? Jen is also a neurotic mother to her two teenage sons, a huge fan of her adopted dog, and an advocate for animal rights. When Reese Witherspoon returns Jen’s calls and agrees to play Jen in the movie versions of the books, Jen will start a foundation that pays for the medical needs of at risk domestic animals. Until that happens, she urges all of you to support your local animal shelters. More from Jen Carle

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