I escaped unscathed, although another Washington fan didn't. Ten rows in front of me a kid was subjected to tons of shit the whole game, including a lot of food and drink chucked at his face when the final horn sounded.
Yet, I probably threw worse barbs than him over the course of game, including telling one Rangers fan his mother swallowed when I got with her. But people liked me. How?
I got the right kind of drunk.
Believe me, I love blacking out at sporting events. I don't remember any of the Redskins' win over the Cowboys last year to clinch the NFC East, just that it was one of the most fun times of my life. I'm not telling you not to get drunk here. This is sports. By all means, booze it up. Booze it up hard. But avoid being an angry, aggressive drunk. You know, start drinking with an edge and letting that build. Just be happy and excited you get to go to a game in another stadium. You'll find yourself jovially buzzed, which is important later on if things go south.
I made a good first impression.
In life, first impressions are the most important. This is just as true at a sporting event. If you walk into an opponent's arena puffing your chest and tugging at your jersey like you're an NBA player, people are going to want to fight you. Almost immediately. I want to fight you just thinking about it. You're a fan. It's not important to make a show. Just be respectful. There's the whole game to get feisty.
I didn't start shit.
People will find you. Believe me, they will. But if you go picking a fight, you'll wind up dealing with a ton more guys than you expected. There will be plenty of opportunities to talk shit. But it's always better to be the person responding. Remember, in some ways, you are a guest in these people's house. It's no different than a dinner party. You wouldn't walk right in and tell the host her drapes suck even if those fucking drapes suck so much ass. No, you would wait until later. When she's drunk.
I smiled, shrugged and was generally agreeable.
Opposing fans will be expecting you to be ready to defend your team's honor like you are a Native American gearing up for Little Big Horn. When someone insults you and you agree with them, people tend to be taken a back. “Yea, Ovechkin is a pussy.” It's not like the players on your team are going to realize you lied and disown you. Also, listen to other fans. In the second period when the Caps scored first, I jumped up to cheer. Someone yelled “Sit the fuck down.” Instead of turning around and fist pumping, I nodded and sat back down. But don't take this action for passivity. It's setting people up. Once they like you, it's the perfect time to tear them down (because then they won't want to kill you).
I made sure my barbs were on point.
You only get one shot at a good first insult. If you don't think it's going to be the perfect zinger, hold your tongue. There's no sense in saying something that you aren't certain is going to be funny, sharp, and pointed. Make it a winner of an insult and no matter how mean it is, people will respect you.
I also avoided idiotic provenances.
When the Caps were winning and people were yelling at me, I didn't say “Scoreboard.” That's not shit talking, that's fact stating. And also so fucking dumb.
And most importantly…
My team showed up to play. It's no fun being mercilessly mocked out of a stadium. But if that happens, don't yell back. Take the loss. It's just sports, after all. There's no real reason to fight about it. Unless you are drunk and angry. Then, by all means, fight away. But you're gonna get your ass kicked.