Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Etiquette of Smack Talk

Generally it is considered rude to hurl insults at complete strangers. Sporting events, however, are a bit different. Smack talk is a tradition among fans, but that doesn't mean that you get to be a complete jerk. In anticipation of the Super Bowl, here are some smack talk guidelines that should prevent you from getting bounced, punched or arrested.

  1. Don't fire on civilians. Even if they appear to be rooting for a specific side, if someone hasn't bought or borrowed team apparel to wear they probably aren't that invested. As a result, smack talk won't get under their skin as a fan; it will just be annoying. Unless the person engages you in some smack talk first, find another adversary.
  2. Take a hint. Even if someone is bedecked in the opponent's colors from head-to-toe, he or she may just want to watch the game. If someone is trying to ignore your smack talk, leave them alone. You can certainly find someone else who will dish it as well as take it.
  3. No racial, religious or other epithets. Keep the comments to a team's or player's skills (or lack thereof). Personal insults to fans, players, coaches, or even the officiating staff are tacky and hurtful even during the "big game." Show that you've still got a touch of class by stretching your imagination to come up with more creative material.
  4. Keep it under control. No matter what someone else says or what the final score is, remember that it is only a game. Escalating to violence or destruction of property is just plain idiotic and has a good chance of getting you arrested or worse.
For potential targets of smack talk,
  • Realize that if you are wearing team apparel you are a target, particularly if you are entering into enemy territory. Be prepared with a sense of humor and a few prepared retorts.
  • When responding to smack talk, all the above rules still apply even if the other person isn't following them. 
Finally, smack talk stops being acceptable once the game is over. Show you've returned to polite society by shaking your opponent's hand, saying "good game" and going home.

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