There is no secret formula to becoming the "perfect" sports fan, but there are certain things one can do to become a better at it. With the help of several readers, we have compiled 20 rules for being a good sports fan. We are releasing them four at a time throughout the week. Hopefully, you enjoy it - or at least call out your friends when they violate these rules. Day 4: Novice sports fans
1 DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS: Most seasoned sports fans are more than happy to introduce newcomers into the fold. In general, novice sports fans, please ask a ton of questions. It's how you are going to learn the simple things like how a team gets a first down in football. It's how you are going to learn the weird things like the intricacies of a balk in baseball. Exception to the rule: Tense situations like Game 7 of the World Series or the Super Bowl are not the best times to ask questions.
2 PUT FORTH AN EFFORT: That said, a little independent work goes a long way. In one extreme case, the now-wife of a friend who is a huge football fan wanted to learn more about the game. So she created flash cards with the complete quarterback depth charts of every NFL team on them and memorized them. You don't necessarily have to go to this extreme, but it obviously doesn't hurt. Exception to the rule: None.
3 LEARN THE HISTORY: A corollary of sorts to putting forth an effort. If you are new to a city, fan base or both, it is wise to learn about the collective highs and lows into which you are entering. This will help you avoid saying things like, "I don't know what the big deal is" at the end of a Vikings overtime loss in the NFC title game. Exception to the rule: New Timberwolves fans can skip everything that happened before Kevin Garnett.
4 DEVELOP AN IRRATIONAL HATRED FOR THE TEAM NEAREST TO YOURS (courtesy of @randballsstu on Twitter): This probably was submitted in jest, but it is absolutely true. Nothing defines the fan experience like a seething dislike of a rival. The fans of this team probably have tons in common with you, and in real life could be your friends -- maybe even relatives. But in the irrational world of sports, they are the enemy. The sooner you learn this, the better. Exception to the rule: Understand that your team might be so bad it has no rivals.