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Bengals stadium etiquette: To stand or to sit, that is the question

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Devoted fan or obnoxious jerk? What is the ruling when you see one fan perpetually standing when everybody around them is sitting at the game?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to sports, there are many rules. The NFL is no exception. For example, there are rules specifying what constitutes a "catch" – not that the rule is fully understood by anybody, but it’s a rule nonetheless – as well as rules that result in penalties and rules on what you can and can't bring into the stadium.

Not only are there written rules, but there are unwritten rules. Such rules include not attempting a two point conversion, or throwing a deep bomb when you’re winning with a significant lead. Of course, if you’re Sam Wyche facing the Houston Oilers, these rules become optional.

Not only do the players have rules, but the fans have rules, too. You can’t bring alcohol into the stadium, and you can’t throw bottles onto the field (you don’t live in Cleveland, after all).

One unwritten fan rule is the etiquette on whether to stand or sit in your seat during the game. You paid for your ticket, it's your right to stand in front of your seat, should you choose, right?


There tend to be certain sections where standing during much of the game is the norm, such as the end zone, or at a college game in the student section. But outside of these sections, the remaining sections of most stadiums tend to be ones where sitting is the unwritten rule followed by the fans.


There also are certain situations where standing in an otherwise normative sitting section is allowable.

For example, standing up to cheer a scoring play or another momentum shifting play like a sack or turnover seems fine. And standing up to let people in and out of their seats is commonly expected, though often annoying.


What about the one fan who perpetually stands, regardless of game situation, in an area where all of the other fans are sitting?

Are they being a better fan by vividly standing for their team, compared to the lazy lot around them who sit on the seats? Or are they being a self-absorbed jerk who refuses to respect the dozen people behind them, and the other 300 people in their section, who all treat the area as a sitting area?

I ask because I got to experience this scenario play out at the Bengals game this Sunday against the St Louis Rams. And it raises the question of unwritten fan rules.

I was sitting in an upper section of Paul Brown Stadium (300’s), where the norm is that everybody sits, outside of the exciting, big plays. And everybody in my area abided by this unwritten expectation, except for one individual who was a few rows in front of me.

This fan was on a mission to stand for the entire game, come hell or high water. Of course, up in the 300’s you’d need high water of Biblical Noah proportions for the Ohio River to reach those seats, but I digress.

Anyway, the guy directly behind the fan who perpetually stood, politely asked him on several occasions to sit. After dismissing the requests to sit, the standing fan resorted to yelling at the guy who asked him to sit. His reasoning was that he was at a "football game" and would therefore be standing the entire game.

This prompted the guy behind the standing fan to send a text to the stadium "Jerk" line, where fans can report fans who are acting like jerks to the stadium security.

As the text was being sent, the fan's passive aggressive wife chimed in. She grumbled to her husband, but loudly enough for all around her to hear, about how they were season ticket holders, and therefore were entitled to stand the entire game. She also insisted that the non-season ticket holder who was asking her husband to sit, had no right to make such a request, since he didn't have season tickets. Apparently the request for her husband to sit was not unique to this one game, as she proceeded to gripe that this section was the worst one they ever had tickets for.

The wife decided more retaliation was in order, so she stood also (something she had not been doing previously), forming more of a standing wall in front of the guy who had been asking her husband to sit. Within a few minutes security showed up and removed the standing fan for a little bit to have a chat with him. This prompted the wife to turn around and yell at the guy who placed the text to the Jerk line.

The fan returned after a brief visit with security, and spent most of the remainder of the game sitting. His wife didn’t say much when he returned, but primarily because she spent the second half slouched over, passed out.

For what it’s worth, on the Bengals’ web site, there is also a "Fan Code of Conduct" listed, which includes interfering with other fans' ability to enjoy the game as a prohibited act.

This whole scenario got me thinking about the unwritten rules of the game for fans. So I’m turning to the good readers at Cincy Jungle to get your take on this unwritten rule.