Fans Need To Read The Codes Of Conduct For Their Favorite Teams

By Gregory Moore
Updated: November 1, 2006

SAN ANTONIO – So you’ve just plopped out about $10,000 for two season tickets to your favorite team. The season for the NBA started this week and you just can’t wait. You’ve got your signs ready. You’ve got your gear you’re going to wear and you are just completely giddy over the prospect of being a season ticket holder.

Well, hold on for just a moment because what you need to hear is something sports fans rarely hear to begin with. As a season ticket holder for the NBA, you are an elite member but you are nothing more than just another fan and all fans have to abide by a code of conduct and if you don’t adhere to it, your ownership as a season ticket holder could be in jeopardy.

I guarantee you that if Mr. Hooman Hamzehloui of Windermere, Florida had read the code of conduct for fans, his actions would not have precipitated the dreadful event of him losing his season tickets this season with the Orlando Magic nor would there even be a story about fan behavior.

And yet that was not the case and sadly this is partially due to the fact that fans of sporting event simply do not understand their role in fan/player altercations.

The NBA has gone through great strides in trying to maintain a closeness with its fan base but it realizes that there has to be some rules and regulations that both fans and those associated with the team and/or arena in which the game in abide by. The NBA’s Fan Code of Ethics can be found at

If you have never looked at this code of conduct before, you might want to peruse it now because the league has a right to snatch those tickets away from you. As Mr. Hamzehloui quickly found out, not only can a franchise do so, they will do so for the interest of the rest of the fans.

Now is Mr. Hamzehloui a bad person? Of course not. I think what he did was something that happens with people who are from different cultures than our own. Now don’t mistake this for some type of cultural supremacy because it’s not. Dikembe Mutumbo, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash or any of the other 300 plus players in the league would have had a problem with the language that came forth from anyone of any race.

Racial epithets is something that no one should tolerate; whether they are known or not known to be sensitive by the person hurling them. And so when it comes to fan behavior and how to handle it, professional leagues have made an effort to put these codes of conduct in place so that everyone can have a rewarding experience.

***image4**THE TICKET DOESN’T GIVE YOU CARTE BLANCHE It’s always amazing how many people believe that just because they have a ticket to a sporting event, they feel like they are entitled to be boorish, rude, and just down right nasty during that event. For example, have you ever heard of a Philadelphia Eagles fan being nice to a New York Giants fan at the Linc?

Fan decorum in the city of brotherly love? Yeah right. We are talking about the people who booed Santa Claus if I’m not mistaken. But what the NBA and other leagues want are fans that are passionate yet who are respectful of others too.

They want this type of behavior because respectful fans are paying fans and paying fans who are happy with how they are treated become repeat customers at that arena.

So just how serious are the leagues when it comes to fan disruptions and even the acute case of out of control fans needing to be removed from the fan base? Well the NFL’s policy is a really good one that has derived from dealing with unruly fans.

Each club has its own set of rules and regulations but for the most part, the fan codes of conduct by the teams are on par to give a fan an opportunity stay in the game but without being disruptive.

The NBA’s fan code of conduct I’m a little more familiar with but it too is bendable but not breakable in leniency. But even if you look at the NHL or MLB and their version of this code, all of them will undoubtedly probably have this type of wording or similar on the following issues:

• There will not be any obscene or indecent messages on signs or clothing.

• Guests will sit only in their ticketed seats and show their tickets when requested.

• Players will respect and appreciate each and every fan.

Now I listed those three guidelines from the NBA’s fan code of conduct list but I’m sure you are getting the picture. Simply put, there are rules posted and the fans need to know what they are in order to insure they having a good time and that others are enjoying the experience as well.

But what about those fans that simply do not want to comply and who think that that ticket gives them all kinds of rights that even the owners may not enjoy at a stadium or arena? Then that is where enforcement of these rules and the revocation of tickets held by season ticket holders come into play from the league or team.

I remember several news stories in which football fans from various cities found their tickets being revoked because either vile language or behavior by them or those who were sitting in their seats. In the case of basketball fans, the Detroit situation a couple of years back was enough for the league actually install their code of conduct and to also hold the players accountable for their actions.

What I’ve heard from a lot of fans is that they simply didn’t know that such codes of conduct existed. Oh that is no excuse in this day and age; especially if you are a season ticket holder.

Teams go out of their way to have exceptional customer service and undoubtedly there is materials given out to each and every season ticket holder learns what is expected of them at that time. So ignorance of these rules really is not an excuse; especially with thousands of dollars at stake.

IS CULTURE SENSITITVITY TRULY NEEDED HERE It’s hard to fathom that in the 21st century racial epithets are still said by individuals in this country but that shouldn’t be surprising. But with this country being such a melting pot, racial sensitivity is something that is an enigma these days.

For sports fans, this shouldn’t be a problem but it seems to be a microcosm of our times of still not seeing each other as ‘equals’. In referencing back to the unfortunate story about Mutumbo and Mr. Hamzehloui, the reference of “monkey” to a black man is indeed offensive.

Now whether Mr. Hamzehloui said something that was as derogatory as “you big monkey”, it was simply uncalled for and for that reason, the Orlando Magic and the NBA had a reason to react the way they did. Again, let me say that I don’t think that Mr. Hamzehloui is a bad individual. I think this was a simple case of a culture clash. However the cultural misunderstanding doesn’t excuse what he did. Far from it.

With the season kicking off this week in the NBA, let’s hope that everyone is learning to be more tolerant on and off the field and that fans learn to voice their displeasure without becoming so pervasive as to have a team or league ban them from a sport they may truly love.

CULTURE SENSITIVITY, PART II Okay, while I was spending time with my girlfriend two weeks ago, I had learned that it seems that a Dallas sports columnist decided to be very insensitive to a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and call him a ‘junkie’ on her show.

One of the beat writers in Dallas for the BASN site told me that while listening to ESPN 103.3’s “Little Ball of Hate” show, Jennifer Floyd Engel repeatedly called Quincy Carter a junkie on her show. Now I can’t verify this to be fact or not but considering the fact that Ms. Engel has a sincere distaste for “Q”, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

But what was probably more troubling was that I received quite a few e-mails from others who have heard similar comments made by her and some of those e-mails from the DFW metroplex are wanting myself and a friend of mine to actually add some ‘color’ to what one e-mailer called ‘Bland Sports Gab’.

I’ll make no secret that I’m not really a fan of LBOH or even GAC on that station. The only time I do listen to it is to hear the talking heads rail against one wide receiver and try to espouse what they would or would not tolerate with him.

Of course that’s pretty much died down now since the Cowboys have won their first of three road games this month. But I am a little perturbed as to why a columnist of Engel’s caliber would stoop so low as to called a former quarterback a junkie without in substantive proof of the sort in this day and age.

Forget about past transgressions for a moment. What has me a little miffed is that a columnist would go out of her way to dehumanize a young man who has had troubles in his life. And ‘Q’ is nowhere to be found in sports annals these days. So why take a crack shot at him when he can’t defend himself as a talk show host? Good question and someone should be asking them.

It’s kind of ironic that in sports we, meaning writers and talking heads, have to constantly bring about conversation of racial equality and cultural tolerance at an age when such things should be a forgone conclusion. In Engel’s case, if what was told to me via e-mails and voice messages are true, somebody in Big D needs to be reading her the riot act.

I say that because it is something that journalists or media pundits should not be doing just to get ratings for your show or more readership of your column. I say that because it was just in the past few weeks Clear Channel of Atlanta let go two of its morning show hosts behind racially insensitive material.

Whether it was meant to be a bit for a segment or not, those two radio hosts are out of a job and have pending litigation against them by the individuals they offended.

When it comes to cultural sensitivity, I can attest that I have had many Black athletes come and say they wish that they had more journalists of color and that many felt uneasy in dealing with talk show hosts or journalists who seemed to have a biasness that was on the ‘nasty’ side. Maybe there is some truth to that particular statement.

Maybe not. But one thing is definitely a fact: sports journalists, pundits and talking heads should be above the fray on declassifying anyone who has had failures in their lives for the sheer enjoyment of trying to get ratings or readership.

That’s not even tabloid journalism in my eyes; that’s yellow journalism and sports fans deserve something so much better than that.