When a sports bar isn’t a sports bar

Illustration: Josh Clark

Hey, owners, remember the fundamentals of the game. 

Editor’s note: This story is based on true events.

Many people think a sports bar is all about getting together with a large, raucous group of people to cheer on a team, drink lots of beer, and eat lots of greasy food.

It’s not. It’s about the freakin’ game. Don’t get my drink first, don’t offer me a menu, don’t say, “I’ll have to ask my manager” to change the channel. Just show me the damn game.

With that blunt perspective in mind, here’s an open letter to sports bar owners everywhere, kindly suggesting, “You might have a bad sports bar if…”

  • You have only three TVs and they’re tuned to “Wheel of Fortune,” “American Idol,” and an infomercial for Time Life’s “Legends of Country Music.”
  • You have 36 TVs, but they’re all on the same European soccer game.
  • You advertise “Watch Monday Night Football Here!” but your bar closes at 9pm.
  • Your biggest promotion is Karaoke Night, featuring Carl and Carla from down the street.
  • All your screens face south and all your tables face east.
  • A customer asks, “Could you put the NBA Finals on?” and your bartender responds, “The NB-what?”
  • You advise your waitresses to “Put some clothes on.”
  • A tiny little sign next to the cash register reads, “No alcohol served.”
  • When someone wants the Lions put on, they get Animal Planet.
  • You switch Game 7 of the World Series because your 6-year-old daughter wants to watch Nick at Nite.
  • A customer asks, “Do you have the baseball package?” and your waitress answers, “We have two-for-one tacos.”
  • Your bartender needs three remotes and the channel guide to find the local NBC channel.
  • You repeatedly interrupt football broadcasts to announce the lucky number raffle winners.
  • Every week during the fall, without fail, your staff is caught off guard at 1pm Sunday. Trust me on this: The NFL starts at 1pm. Every Sunday.

The perfect sports bar, of course, is open 24/7, 365 days a year. Every TV shows a different game, mostly Detroit teams and the University of Michigan. Every bartender and every waitress has memorized the day’s lineup and channels. The bar’s centerpiece is a fountain of Rolling Rock. No fans from New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, or Ohio are in sight.

Should I write what I really think of those fans?

I’ll have to ask my manager.