If you journey across the SBN hockey network today, you'll find a number of posts talking about enhancing the fan experience. These range in tone and seriousness, but as evidenced by Monday's post about fans Rick Rypien should have attacked, we take the fan experience very seriously here at FTR.
With that in mind, it's time to give the power back to the good fans. Yes fans, it's time you acted as the ref on the fan experience and gave penalties to those obnoxious fans that just ruin it for everybody else. Here's the official FTR rulebook for penalizing fans.
First off, it's important to establish the penalty box. Each arena should have a fan penalty box, where the offending fan will be held. It will be a concrete room with no windows, decorations, or anything fun -- just a row of seats bolted down to face a video screen that plays Jersey Shore on an endless loop. Each chair is also equipped with small speakers that blast out a random rotation of Nickelback's entire catalog. Some may call it hell; we call it the bad fan sin bin.
Then you feel shame, and then you are free. Ok, let's get to the penalties.
Getting up during play (minor): Sweet Jebus, people, is it that hard to wait for a whistle before you go get more nachos? Not only do you block everyone's view in behind you, you trip over the people who are currently sitting there watching the game. This becomes a double-minor if you spill any food or drink (yours or someone else's) during this process.
Yelling anti-Canada/America/Sweden/whatever slurs (minor): Chances are, your team has at least one player with the heritage that you're bashing. So no, Canada doesn't suck and America doesn't suck and the Soviets -- who don't exist anymore -- don't suck. You are the one who sucks due to your complete ignorance of your own team's roster.
Wearing a jersey with your name on it (minor): Some may debate this one, but I think it's majority rule on the competition committee that wearing your own name on a jersey is worth a minor penalty. Unless you're a little kid; however, in that case the penalty goes to the parent that doesn't teach the child to know better. Shame on you.
Wearing a Puck Daddy Jersey Foul (major): We've all seen these monstrosities, and as amusing as they are to read about while we're all toiling away at work or school, they're painful to see in person. A Jersey Foul is an instant major penalty.
Wearing a Jersey Foul for a team that's unrelated to either team or any player (game misconduct): There's some level of acceptability for Jersey Fouls that are appropriate for the context of the game: the team involved, a specific player's nickname, etc. However, if it just has nothing to do with the actual game, that's a game misconduct. Sorry, you'll have to go to the nearest steakhouse and watch the game with Jeremy Roenick.
Trash-talking an opponent by referring to him by his number (minor): What's a sign of a bandwagon newbie? Someone who's boisterous enough to yell smack at the opponent but ignorant enough to actually know the player's name. The best course of action here is quite simple -- if you don't know the facts, don't say anything.
Trash-talking your own team by referring to him by his number (major): There's nothing worse than a loud, obnoxious fan that doesn't know anything -- except for when said fan starts berating his own team for their performance. As fans, we can certainly bemoan a horrible power play or a blown shot, but if you're airing these grievances and you don't even know the guys on your team, perhaps it's time to sit down and observe from the proverbial press box until you're ready for the big leagues.
Yelling for your own team to do something violent even though it's a penalty and would put your team at a disadvantage (minor): This isn't necessarily the sign of an obnoxious newbie, just someone who's an idiot. If you slash someone in the head, that's a penalty. If you punch someone in the head, that's a penalty. If you trip someone, that's a penalty. Penalties put your team on the penalty kill, which means your team is at a disadvantage, and that's bad. So stop encouraging them to do that.
Repeatedly yelling out a player's nickname (minor): It's great that you feel comfortable enough with players that you refer to them on a first-name or nickname basis. However, they're out there and you're in your seat. There's no need to yell the nickname every single time they touch the puck. Any cute or cool factor that may come with the nickname immediately starts to whittle away with repeated use. We all love nicknames, just don't ruin it for the rest of us.
Repeatedly yelling out a player's nickname that you made up (major): Sorry, but any nickname that has to come with the prefix of "I just call him _______ because of ________" means that you're in the box. There is an exception to this rule if the nickname is funny in a rude or profane way and is used sparingly.
Rapid texting (minor, major, misconduct): More than five texts in five minutes? There's a difference between getting fantasy updates from your buddies or checking in with the babysitter and texting non-stop because you don't care about the event in front of you. Here's some advice -- if you spend more time looking at your phone than the action on the ice, then you should have given your ticket to someone who cares. A first offense is a minor, a second is an additional major, and a third offense is a misconduct.
Letting your kids get out of control (minor): I am 100% behind teaching the kids the beauty of hockey. But that means watching the game with them at home, playing street hockey with them, and buying them merchandise and video games so they enjoy the game. It doesn't mean bringing your kid to the game and letting them crawl all over the seats and run up and down the aisles while other fans are trying to watch the game.
Participating in the wave (minor): The wave is stupid. Don't encourage it by participating in it.
Starting the wave (misconduct): The wave is stupid. This is akin to an instigator penalty on the ice. If you even attempt to start the wave once, that's an automatic game misconduct.
Do you have an amendment to the FTR rulebook for penalizing fans? Put it in the comments below.