Saturday night will mark one of the biggest sporting events of the year as four of the top college basketball programs in the country will square off in the aptly named Final Four. Whether you like it or not, there's a very good chance you will find yourself standing in a packed sports bar for this event, and for those not initiated (or the least bit interested) in athletics, such a location may seem unusual or even intimidating. Fear not friends, there is no way you can catch anything at these venues. To prep you for your impending foray into the great unknown, below I've compiled a guide of the five people you can expect to see when you do venture off to Prime Time (which is the name of roughly 70 percent of the sports bars in this country). Be safe, have fun and remember, don't touch anything -- you might catch tetanus.
High Five Guy
High Five Guy is as indispensable an aspect of the sports watching experience as satellite television and overcompensation. Generally seen wearing a jersey of the team he supports, High Five Guy is rowdy, excitable and would love more than absolutely anything on this planet -- anything -- to give you some skin.
Take heed: If you high five this guy once, know that you have entered into an unspoken, unwritten, but 100 percent binding social contract that states you will high five this guy any time something remotely positive occurs the rest of the night. All it takes is one sweet, sweet hand slap for Pavlov's dog theory to fully set in with High Five Guy -- one congratulatory high five will most definitely result in him attempting to give you even more skin almost instinctually after any basket, steal, assist or particularly funny commercial. Prepare yourself.
Cynical Person is almost always an alumni or super fan of the team, and they will do anything in their power to let everyone else at the bar know that they care about the outcome of this game more than anyone else on the planet. The way they go about proving this isn't to cheer or celebrate, but rather jeer and berate. Anytime their favorite team does something wrong -- or really anything at all -- you can expect Cynical Person to scream and bemoan their futility. If their team does make a good play, Cynical Person will stay in character by delivering only backhanded compliments to the men on the TV screen who can't hear them and have no idea they exist, such as "Ugh, finally!" or "Where has that been all game?"
And don't get me started on what Cynical Person thinks about the officials.
Cynical Person can serve as a good conversation piece as their antics are generally over the top, and mutually off-putting to everyone else at the bar who isn't investing way too many human emotions into a sporting contest. If you happen to be the guest of Cynical Person at a sports bar, just buy them a few drinks and by halftime they will loosen up and maybe evolve into the much more palatable High Five Guy.
Old Guy Who Happened To Be At The Bar Anyway
Nobody knows this guy. He's sitting off to the side by himself, and it's fairly clear he came to the bar because he wanted a drink, not because of the game you're watching. He's not interested in talking to you, but he may give you a couple of judgmental sneers, as per his contractual obligations as the token old guy drinking by himself at a sports bar. More often than not he'll either be drinking a beer or even something kind of weird, like white wine.
(Side note: Don't order wine at a sports bar. There's a time and a place to enjoy a glass of chardonnay. Time: not during the Final Four. Place: not at a sports bar.)
Old Guy Who Happened To Be At The Bar Anyway probably doesn't want to talk to you, but if you're bored, you can try attempting to get some back story on him and find out why he's at this bar alone not watching the Final Four. There's a good chance the reason and accompanying story will be depressing or even somewhat bizarre, but if you're not into sports, it'll definitely be more interesting than the game.
Went Straight To The Bar After Work Still Wearing A Suit Guy
Went Straight To The Bar After Work Still Wearing A Suit Guy is a staple of the sports bar experience, particularly in major cities, and let me just say, you're going to love him. Suit Guy just finished working for 16 hours and is ready to unwind by drinking a lot while a sports contest blares on the TV. They don't hold any allegiances, but they probably bet on every single minute aspect of the game, and this fact, in combination with the alcohol consumed, should place Suit Guy on either equal footing or one notch above High Five guy on the enthusiasm scale. You're in for a real treat.
Pro tip: Suit Guy represents your best odds at getting a free drink at this bar. Just talk to him and start lightly discussing material possessions. Claim that you just got a nice new TV. He'll undoubtedly bring up a nice thing he owns, and then -- and this is key -- you need to say you own a nicer version of that thing. Suit Guy makes more money than you and now he'll want to prove it, and the best way to do that is by buying drinks for the bar after the next great play. He gets back his dignity, you get a free shot of top shelf liquor. It's a win all around.
There's a good chance you might fall into this category, and if so, you'll find yourself in good company as most people populating sports bars during large sporting events are in fact just there because of someone else. They may hold an interest in sports, but said interest probably could have been fulfilled on a couch at home rather than a sticky bar that reeks of stale beer, vomit and shattered dreams. But Supportive Girlfriend/Friend are just that, supportive, and they're there to cheer as loudly and raucously as the person they're with, whether it be High Five Guy or Suit Guy. The most compelling coupling is Supportive Girlfriend/Friend and Cynical Fan, as Supportive Girlfriend/Friend will have to feign similar misguided interest and passion in the final result of the game in order to fulfill their supportive role. Cynical Fan ups his game when he has a supportive partner there as he needs to establish that he's the most passionate person at the bar through cynicism, and he'll undoubtedly view his only friend in the world at that moment as his competition for this distinction. No need to discuss the supportive friend/girlfriend of Old Guy Who Happened To Be At The Bar Anyway -- he came alone.
And with that, you should be fully prepared and know what to expect when you're dragged into the great unknown to watch the game. If you hold no interest in the contest itself, treat the evening as a people watching party by attempting to identify each of these archetypes that will undoubtedly populate the bar you're at.
And seriously, don't high five High Five Guy unless you're really into high fives.
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