I’m a Bracket Watcher

The NCAA tournament is in fullswing, and of course, Georgetown fans are paying even more attention than usual due to the success of this year’s Hoya squad. But regardless of how your favorite team is faring, many sports fans follow March Madness year in and year out as one of the largest and most exciting sporting events of the year.

Offices and groups of friends compile pools, and entrants vehemently defend their brackets, picking favorites and upsets in the hopes of finding the magical winning combination. Games will be broadcast on network television for up to 12 hours per day and analyzed on every news and sports program for the next month, leading up to the crowning of this year’s national champion.

With such a concentration of games for sports fans to follow, the etiquette of viewing the games becomes all the more important. Whether attending the game in person, watching a broadcast at your favorite bar or staying home to watch with a smaller group, being a fan carries with it a number of expectations and responsibilities.

Other guidelines vary depending upon the venue from which you watch the game. For example, when you are in the stands and a player on your favorite team throws down a thunderous dunk over the opponent’s gigantic center, it is appropriate and encouraged to clap loudly and shout your support, perhaps in the form of a bellowing “Yes!” or “Ohhhhhhh!” This type of behavior may even be called for in a bar setting if the crowd is sufficiently large and boisterous.

However, when you are watching the game in the comfort of your home, perhaps with two or three of your friends, it is almost never appropriate to clap and scream. Sure, every now and then, you are bound to lose control and let out a yelp or clap seven distinctly defined times as loud as you possibly can. But once you realize that you are the only person in the house behaving in such a manner, you need to stop. No one else watching the game or elsewhere in the house appreciates hearing you act like an animal, and everyone secretly wishes you would lose your voice and break your wrist.

Similarly, a fan may feel compelled to accentuate the game with intricate sports statistics or witty comments, perhaps after a player named Dan Dickau “strokes” a shot, or in another situation warranting the recognition of a pun, be it appropriate or not. This is a tricky endeavor. Sometimes, the people watching the game with you will find your comments informative or funny. They will express this sentiment by laughing after you make a comment or offering a complementary or opposing view to your statistical arguments.

If this is the case, good for you. You are contributing a great service to your fellow viewers, especially in light of the current crew of miserable professional sports commentators, few worse than James Worthy or the intolerable Bill Walton.

However, other times you will be talking and talking, thinking that you are the funniest person ever. But if you are the only one laughing, odds are you are bothering your friends more than entertaining them. Do everyone a favor and be quiet.

Sure, it is easy to be critical when sitting down to write a column. Acting as a first-rate sports fan is no simple task. But if you show the dedication and commitment, someday your efforts might pay off.

Just Looking appears on Tuesdays in The Hoya.

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