Let’s Play “Knockout”: 5 Tips To Fighting At Basketball Games

Penn State Students
Their whole student section was wearing these hats.

It’s been a discouraging week. What looked like an even contest at #9 Minnesota turned into a blowout, and the conference-winless Iowa Nobodies disemboweled the Wildcats in Evanston. NU’s only conference win thus far came against a Penn State team that scored approximately zero points outside the paint. So let’s not talk about that.

I am a lifelong devotee of donnybrooks, a scholar of the spectator brawl. Ever since a formative experience at the 2003 Clemson-Carolina football game when two pregnant (I think???) women clawed at one another and blocked my view of the socially accepted violent action on-field, I have learned more and more about the technique and beauty inherent in bleacher fan duels.

I cannot of course recommend that you start fights at Northwestern’s next basketball games (away to HATED RIVAL Illinois, home hosting to #2-ranked and REPUBLICAN STATE Indiana, then home again to play the BY ALL ODDS PROBABLY TERRIBLE PEOPLE of Minnesota) or in fact at any sporting event. No matter how tempted you may be to hit the one Michigan fan who decided to hang out in the student section, I can never recommend fighting. Not in today’s litigious society. That all being said, here are some tips.

  1. You Can’t Go It Alone. Fans of opposing teams are usually organized into family or student units and will rarely operate solo. Any glass-chinned Michigander still has enough compatriots to send you to the hospital if you work alone.
  2. Box Out. Now that you’re working in groups, make sure your friends know how to keep your fight one-on-one. They need to keep an eye out for opposing team fans who might enter the fight, then they should lower their body and establish contact. If they have good pivot skills and stick with their man, then you should be free to wail away on your target.
  3. Vision Is Key. Spectator brawl rookies may express concern that “the fight moves too fast” and “[they] can’t tell what’s happening before it’s happened.” This is largely about developing vision. The first step to any action is properly observing your surroundings, particularly in your peripheral vision. This is one of many reasons why contacts are recommended over glasses in fan fighting.
  4. Follow Your Shot. Once you have chosen a target and your friends have established position to keep other fans from entering, it’s finally time to take a shot at your man (I assume you know from middle school and church ball experience how to properly form a fist and so on.) The next most important tip for offensive skills is to follow your punch with your body. If your body stays back in a defensive position, you will flail forward in the “nerd fight” style, directing very little force at your opponent. If you simply follow your fist, you’ll get much better results.
  5. Hustle Back. The amateur fighter will gloat over a successful hit, but once you’ve delivered the pain your new objective is to protect yourself and your team. Use your footwork to escape the area before you’re outnumbered on defense or your opponents establish a break away. Keep these tips in mind and good luck at the arena!

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