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Remember to be a good sports fan as arenas open back up

Fans are back, but please don’t be disrespectful.

It’s been over a year since NBA fans have been able to cheer on their respective teams in person, but that has changed significantly since the beginning of the NBA playoffs. Recently many franchises eased capacity restrictions and upped the number of spectators allowed into their venues. It’s been great.

The playoffs feel like the actual playoffs, not like the bubble. There is real chanting, not fake crowd noises, and you can feel the energy in the building whether you’re there or watching on TV. Even players have commented on how much they enjoy having fans in the buildings. But there is another side to this.

While we’re glad we can all cheer on our favorite teams and players in person for the first time in a while, some of us have forgotten proper fan etiquette, so let me give you a refresher.

Keep it classy

We all want to cheer for our favorite teams in a way that gives them an edge over their opponents. Whether it’s booing the opposition every time they catch the ball or chanting at them at the free-throw line, all of this is welcome, but keep it classy.

Before game two of the Atlanta Hawks-New York Knicks series, Knicks fans were informed that the chant for the night was, “Trae is Balding.”

Yikes. Why would that ever be okay?

We’ve all heard the jokes about players’ hair and hairlines, and while it may be funny here and there, it has no business being a chant. The “F—- Trae Young” chant that went off in Madison Square Garden in both games to start the series wasn’t a great look, either. There are many other ways to throw opponents off their game, and publicly humiliate them should not be an option.

If you wouldn’t do it to their face then don’t do it at all

We’ve all heard this before. It’s the golden rule. Treat others how you want to be treated. We should all operate like that daily, not just at sporting events, but if that is the case why would a fan spit on Trae Young? Yes, they spit on him.

That is not fandom, that is degrading.

Trae truly is the villain Knicks fans want to hate and it’s good for basketball and good for the series; it makes the playoffs fun. He has shown up and performed well each game, shining in his playoff moment and rising to the challenge of the “F—- Trae Young” chants. But even “villains” don’t deserve that kind of treatment. No one does.

The bright lights and the opportunity to perform on a stage does not make these athletes any less human or any less worthy of respect. Again, boo, yell, and chant (respectfully), but degrading acts will never be seen as an acceptable way to show your support for your team while humiliating another.

Don’t be a sore winner

I get it. It’s been a while since you’ve been present to see your team take home a W, but act like you’ve been there before. In Game 2 of the Washington Wizards-Philadelphia 76ers series, Russell Westbrook was exiting the court and appeared to be injured. Just before entering the tunnel, a fan dumped popcorn on him.

In an attempt to add insult to injury, the Philly fan made a fool of himself. His team was winning. The game was ending. A key player of the opposing team was exiting. This is what you want to see as a fan of the winning team.

The easy way to revel in this victory would be to simply cheer your team on to the finish. But at no point should dumping popcorn on an athlete, or anyone, cross your mind.

Russell Westbrook’s response to the fan throwing popcorn after the game was

“I wouldn’t come up to me on the street and throw popcorn on my head, because you know what happens…In these arenas, you gotta start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”

Even LeBron James demanded for the fan to be held accountable and to be shown publicly.

Overall, fans are glad to be back in the stands, and players are glad to have us. But let’s not forget that though these athletes may appear larger than life, they are people and need to be treated as such, with respect.

Cheer on your team. Enjoy the opportunity to watch the action live and celebrate with other fans. But let’s not confuse passionate fandom for blatant disrespect. They are not the same.