Sit down and shut up.
Is that too blunt? Not when you're talking to a guy in a chicken suit or somebody who has painted himself red and blue so everybody will know he's not just another jerk, he's a New York Giants jerk.Before anybody concludes that this is your basic nasty assault on New Yorkers, let me say the team colors are irrelevant. Every franchise attracts exhibitionists who, because they get no attention at home or on the job, try to find fulfillment at sports events, mostly football.
You see a blue and silver jerk, he's an emotionally deprived Detroit Lions fan. You see a green and yellow jerk, his empty heart belongs to the Green Bay Packers. Blue and white? He grew up neglected in Indianapolis. Orange and brown, and carrying a dog bone? He spent too many years being put down by his boss in Cleveland.
This problem is a version of the Ralph Kramden Syndrome where the poor soul finds happiness under a stupid hat at the Noble Order of Raccoons' lodge.
Note the masculine references. This is not meant to be discriminatory. Some women paint themselves up, but most lean toward more subdued decor. A little tiger paw on the cheek. An eagle on the forehead. Simple but elegant.
For really bizarre female attire, you need men. Like the Hogettes who worship the Washington Redskins. Decked out in blond wigs, skirts, floppy hats and pig snouts, the Hogettes are males weighing an average of 243 pounds apiece. In their defense, the Hogettes take their work seriously. Since 1983, they've raised $30 million for sick and underprivileged children by appearing at telethons, golf tournaments and other charity events.
Fans in frigid climes have reached that cold, dreary time of year when plain bare skin becomes popular. If the temperature is 20 degrees, with a wind chill factor of minus-5, you don't need paint to show off. You just remove your shirt and let the live audience and millions of television viewers admire the protective roll of blubber around your ears.
For serious maladjustment, the Dancing Harrys and Crazy Georges are No. 1. They dress up in rhinestone cowboy costumes or zoot suits, bump and grind, and try to block the view of as many people as possible. I think 2,203 is the record, set by Dancing Demento in Dallas.
I used to have this terrible fear that one of my children would grow up and wear an animal suit for some kind of athletic enterprise. Like the San Diego chicken or the Philly Phanatic or Miami Maniac. But at least they'd get paid.
If one of those things would do something funny, it would help. But once you get past the big feet and the jelly belly, the laughs are all gone.
No, I don't think all sports event cut-ups are obnoxious. Back before New York Mets fans were spoiled by success there was a guy who used to flash signs bearing short, pithy and appropriate messages to various players.
Ed Kranepool was his favorite. If Kranepool popped up with the bases loaded, which would have happened frequently if the Mets had learned to load the bases, the sign man didn't curse or make obscene gestures. He stood up and, briefly, brandished one of a variety of cardboard insults. Like "The stiff lives!"
Having made his point, he would sit down. My kind of guy.
There's a man in Baltimore who twists his body into letters spelling the word, O-r-i-o-l-e-s. He's all right because he isn't just gyrating so he can be seen, like so many ball park showoffs. The crowd gets into it with him. At least, those who know the alphabet.
How should people act at sports events? Well, they should wear clothes. They should hoot and holler when the action warrants it. They should jump up and down when their team does something right. Unless they are belligerent or sloppy drunks they can even sneak in a small flask.
Otherwise, sit down and shut up.
(Steve Weller is a columnist for the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)