Top Level Sports
Published in

Top Level Sports

Sports Fan Behaviors That Need to Stop

Feel free to support your team. Just don’t do any of these things.

Photo by Nathan Rogers on Unsplash

Without fans, professional sports don’t exist. The sports industry is a business and requires people to attend games, watch on TV, and buy merchandise. Additionally, fans can create passionate, tight-knit communities which are capable of doing amazing things.

However, just as with people who like anything, sports fans can sometimes take things too far. When this happens, they can showcase the worst of humanity, with mean-spirited dialogue and actions that can be destructive to sports and the world as a whole.

Here are some of these behaviors that sports fans should absolutely never adopt. If we can collectively stop doing these things, sports will be far more civilized, and a more effective tool for teaching important values.

Wishing for Injuries

Injuries are an unfortunate, but unavoidable part of sports. At the highest levels of competition, athletes push themselves to the limit. Particularly in contact sports with high-impact collisions, people are going to get hurt.

When any player on the opposing team gets hurt, particularly a star player, your team’s chances of winning go up. However, this doesn’t mean you should ever root for injuries, or cheer for them when they happen. Yet, sometimes that’s exactly what occurs.

I’m not taking a shot at Raptors fans here. In a tense NBA Finals game, I’m sure fans of any NBA team, especially in an arena where mob mentality is amplified, would cheer. I’ve seen it happen in games of far less significance all the time.

It’s disgusting. Many people just don’t understand that some things are bigger than the games themselves. It’s easy to think of athletes as gods when in reality they’re real people. Cheering on the suffering of others, knowing full well the implications of injuries, is appalling.

Please, if you only take one thing away from this article, never be this guy.

Blaming the Refs

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Emotions run high in professional sports, where games can be decided by a single play or call. In theory, the referee’s job is to go relatively unnoticed as an impartial arbiter, but there are often times where they are forced to make big calls late in games.

These calls have to go one way or the other, but regardless of whether the ref makes the right call or not, fans of the team on the losing end seem to always go crazy, cursing out the refs and calling them blind or biased. Sometimes, even fans of both teams will be angry at the refs. Far too often, the refs are given blame for a team’s loss.

As a former ref myself, it’s hard for me to listen to all this constant complaining. Being a ref is difficult, but for the most part, professional referees do an outstanding job of calling things in real-time. They don’t get the affordances of you on the couch getting to replay and dissect everything.

Yet, hate is spewed their way on a regular basis. As a sports fan, you have to accept that things will never be perfect. Hurling insults and threats breaks the social contract we developed with referees so we don’t have to officiate ourselves. Games need referees.

And yes, mistakes will occur. But again, refs are graded on their performance. They are good, and over time, things balance out.

Jersey Burning

Your team’s star player just left. What will you do about it? Be upset, but ultimately move on, like a sane human being? No.

Instead, try burning their jersey. You know, your own property that you paid for. That’ll show them!

Nice going, geniuses.

I have never understood why anyone would burn a jersey. If you’re really so upset that a player left, then don’t wear their jersey. Donate it. Do something productive instead of making yourself look crazy.

Or better yet, don’t get irrationally upset in the first place! As I said, sports are a business. These things happen. Players want more money. Teams have to try to do what’s best for them within a salary cap. Rarely do players switch teams under bad terms.

What kind of a message are you sending by burning a jersey? That the player’s accomplishments don’t mean anything anymore? You were really loving them when these things happened. Sometimes, I think of everyone that burned LeBron jerseys when he left for Miami in 2010. What happened to them in 2014 when LeBron returned. They probably jumped back on board, wondering what happened to their jerseys.

I’ve even seen people burn the jerseys of players who were traded, and had no say in the matter whatsoever. It’s just so dumb.

Fan Violence

If everyone took things a little less seriously, we’d all be a little better off. I really shouldn’t need to say this, but there is no reason to actually get into a physical confrontation as a spectator.

But it happens all the time. Someone has one too many, says something, and all of a sudden, we’ve got a brawl on our hands.

It’s bad enough when these things happen at professional sporting events, where teams (and even countries) have rivalries with one another. This is a big problem in international soccer, where some games are actually canceled due to security concerns.

At youth events, though? Come on. It’s as low as it gets, entirely unnecessary, and takes everything away from the kids, instead, giving them a terrible idea of how it is appropriate for adults to behave. Clips like the one above are really sickening.

Connor Groel is a writer who studies sport management at the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves as editor of the Top Level Sports publication on Medium. During the college basketball season, his bracketology is featured at You can follow Connor on Medium, Facebook, and Twitter, and view his archives at



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Connor Groel

Connor Groel

Professional sports researcher. Author of 2 books. Relentlessly curious.