Sports bar etiquette for basketball fans

This is the most wonderful time of the year for college basketball nuts, but it can also be a bit of a challenge. Watching all 64 NCAA tourney games will test the endurance of even the most dedicated fan.

Bleary eyes and a weary bar-stool butt are not excuses for bad manners, however, no matter how pathetic your office-pool bracket picks turned out to be. Weíre all in this together, and weíve got to keep things civil if we expect to make it to the Final Four with a minimum of broken barware and open wounds.

So, to help keep the peace this weekend, here are some simple but important rules of etiquette you should observe at the sports bar.

DO buy the first round. Nobody likes a beer moocher. If your buddy already got the first pitcher, you should buy the second. Just donít try to drink for free.

DONíT use yellow caution tape to try to save your seat. If youíre making a quick pit stop, ask your buddy to watch your seat for a few minutes. Do not try to save a bar stool all day if you have to go back to the office to ďcheck inĒ between every game.

DO respect the empty bar stool if the dude is just making a quick pit stop. No one likes coming back from the gents to find their warmed-up and worn-in perch occupied by some sober newcomer.

DONíT slap high-fives when your hand is slathered in wing sauce. For one thing, no one wants your greasy food detritus on their hand. For another, high-impact high-fives are known to splatter hot-sauce shrapnel into bystandersí eyes, which is the No.-1 cause of tears in men. (No, no -- itís not ícause your bracket is a mess. You got hot sauce in your eye. Youíre not crying.)

DO share your wings (see beer-moocher rule, above). Itís a long tournament, and there are plenty of wings to go around. Your generosity will be rewarded in the end -- like when you blow the last of your beer money on an ill-advised bet that he will too make this free throw. Plus, you need to make friends so someone will watch your seat when you run to the gents.

DONíT bet that he will too make this free throw. Youíve wasted enough dough on your various bracket pools. This is not the time to ante up for slur-of-the-moment proposition bets.

DO tip your bartender. Your servers have to put up with your BS for three weeks of March Madness, and they keep the beer flowing through all the ups and downs of your bracket-blunder mood swings. Donít get stingy when itís time to cash out.