Continue Scratching Your ‘Simpsons’ Itch With the Family’s Best Games

‘The Simpsons: Tapped Out’ on a mobile phone.Image: Mashable composite, EA When the “Every Simpsons Ever” marathon on FXX airs its final episode on Labor Day, what’s a true fan to do to continue feeding the obsession? Unless you own every DVD and want to start the whole thing over again, your

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Continue Scratching Your ‘Simpsons’ Itch With the Family’s Best Games


‘The Simpsons: Tapped Out’ on a mobile phone.
Image: Mashable composite, EA

When the “Every Simpsons Ever” marathon on FXX airs its final episode on Labor Day, what’s a true fan to do to continue feeding the obsession? Unless you own every DVD and want to start the whole thing over again, your best bet is to dive into the world of Simpsons video games.

Once The Simpsons started taking over the airwaves, it didn’t take long for the dysfunctional family to start appearing on more than just television screens. They’ve starred in more than two dozen games since 1991.

Some of them are pretty old, and you’d only be able to play them if you’ve got an impressive collection of retro gaming hardware. Others would even require a visit to an actual arcade. Fortunately, while there are many gems in the back catalog, there are also plenty of great choices for contemporary platforms. Here’s a sampling of the best Simpsons video games.

1. The Simpsons Game

The basic premise of this title is that the Simpsons family obtains super powers. They’ll each be the star of a different section, and you need to use their powers to take down the villains. While the special skills aren’t much of a surprise, they play out in the levels in fun ways. The Simpsons Game also includes a wry sense of humor about video game tropes, with Comic Book Guy appearing from time to time when you stumble upon a well-known cliche, such as a pile of unexplained crates blocking your path.

Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Wii, and Nintendo DS

2. The Simpsons Arcade

It’s probably the least accessible of the bunch, but it’s also largely considered the best Simpsons game. It was the one that kicked off the show’s presence in games, way back in 1991. Up to four players can beat down hordes of enemies in an effort to rescue Maggie from the clutches of Mr. Burns in this arcade game. The family members had fun joint attacks for causing extra mayhem.

3. The Simpsons Arcade (Mobile)

If you don’t happen to have access to an old-school arcade with the previous title, you can still get a somewhat similar experience on an iPhone. The mobile Simpsons Arcade game was the handiwork of EA, and it focuses on Homer rather than all family members equally. It does a nice job of recreating a classic arcade vibe, though, as you chase after a donut that has information about a secret evil plan spearheaded by, of course, Mr. Burns. Good, light mobile fun.

Available on iPhone and iPod Touch

4. The Simpsons: Tapped Out

The most recent entry into the Simpsons game family is this free-to-play mobile title, also from EA. As with the best Simpsons creations, the game’s full of knowing nods to how this type of casual game works. Among the very crowded free-to-play space, this one at least has the benefit of delightful writing that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of the show. Even if you don’t usually go for this style of mobile game, the true Simpsons fan will at least give it a glance.

Available on iOS, Android and Kindle.

5. The Simpsons: Hit & Run

A combination of the animated yellow family and Grand Theft Auto probably sounds like madness, but this riff on the well-known Rockstar Games franchise wound up being one of the most popular Simpsons games. Springfield doesn’t condone the casual slaughter of pedestrians, but you will spend a lot of time behind the wheel of various vehicles as you explore and tackle missions. Expect lots of show references, a great recreation of the city, top-notch writing, and a wacky story.

Available on Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube and Windows

6. Virtual Springfield

This game is decidedly less goofy than most of the others. In fact, it might be better to consider it a simulator or a 3-D tour than a game. The player explores a thoroughly detailed recreation of the Simpson home town. The goal is to collect character cards, but the more enjoyable part is just to wander around and interact with the world you’ve seen so often on TV. As with Tapped Out, the great writing is also a highlight.

Available on CD-ROM for Windows and Macintosh

7. Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror

The annual “Treehouse of Horror” episodes are often fan favorites, delving into even weirder pop cultural references and zaniness than usual. In this title for the Game Boy Color, each level is based on a different segment from the first few years of the Halloween specials. The various Simpson family members each fight their way through the levels, defeating assorted macabre baddies in this side-scrolling action platformer.

Available on Game Boy Color


Homer drives the iconic “Mr. Plow” snowplow in ‘Simpsons Road Rage’.

Image: EA

8. The Simpsons: Road Rage

Did you ever play Crazy Taxi? This is the same thing. Sega actually tried to sue Fox and EA for the overwhelming likeness. As with the original game, you drive around like mad and get your fares to their destinations. It comes with all the familiar faces and humor of the show, as well as nods to specific episodes. For instance, you’ll see the “Don’t Eat Meat” signs from the episode where Lisa becomes a vegetarian, or you can opt to play as Barney in his Plow King snowplow.

Available on PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance

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On The Edge Of Civil War In Ukraine

In the eastern city of Donetsk, friends and neighbors have transformed into enemies, and people on both sides of the conflict worry that there’s no way out from a slide to civil war. View this image ” Ukrainian police try to stop a pro-Russian protester from attacking a pro-Ukrainian rally

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On The Edge Of Civil War In Ukraine

In the eastern city of Donetsk, friends and neighbors have transformed into enemies, and people on both sides of the conflict worry that there’s no way out from a slide to civil war.

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Ukrainian police try to stop a pro-Russian protester from attacking a pro-Ukrainian rally in Donetsk. Baz Ratner / Reuters

DONETSK, Ukraine – Wearing a black shirt and white clerical collar, the pastor walked into the occupied government building that serves as rebel headquarters in this eastern Ukrainian city. Serhiy Kosyak had come to plead for leniency: Rebels threatened to kill anyone who visited the small prayer vigils he held for Ukrainian unity, the city’s last open resistance to the separatist republic rebels had declared. As he waited for an audience, he saw an old friend among the gunmen milling around. Kosyak asked how he was doing. The man’s eyes stared back at him with hate.

There’s a moment on the slide to civil war where friends and neighbors become hard to recognize. The man screamed that Kosyak was a traitor and spy, an outburst sure to doom him amid the fevered atmosphere in the building, where suspicions ran high. Kosyak, 38, had seen the same anger in the passersby who sometimes accosted his pro-Ukraine prayer tent. And he saw it now in the rebels who tied him to a chair in the building and beat him as he prayed. He thought there was evil in it – real evil, because he believed in such things. He thought Satan grabbed hold of people with the ideas pouring into Donetsk on the Russian airwaves: that Russian-speakers there were in danger and needed to rise against Ukraine’s government. When the beatings finally stopped, and he was cleared for release, he stayed in his chair for a minute to bless his assailants: God, enter their lives and open their eyes. Kosyak was still bruised a deep purple under his dress shirt when he opened his sidewalk service more than a week later, on the last day of May. The interfaith vigils once drew hundreds, but attendance was fading as worried supporters fled. Thirty people stood at the edge of a busy bridge beneath an intermittent rain. The sermons were about Sodom: a biblical city so overrun with evil that God decided it couldn’t be saved. In Genesis 19, angels send away a man named Lot, Sodom’s last good soul. Then the Lord levels it from the skies. “God didn’t destroy Sodom until Lot left,” said a pastor named Pavel Zaystev, 46. “As long as we’re here, there’s still hope.” But he worried privately that Donetsk was beyond redemption. “You don’t think even some miracle could change them,” he said of the rebels. “That’s why I think of Sodom: God destroyed them because he could not change them.” Ukraine’s corrupt president, Viktor Yanukovych, a native of the Donetsk region and Russian ally, was ousted by a popular uprising in Kiev on Feb. 22. The conflict came to Russian-speaking Donetsk, where about half of the 1 million residents are ethnically Russian, soon afterward, initially with small demonstrations. Protesters worried that the new government would punish Russian-speakers – fears fueled by Kremlin propaganda. They believed that their language would be banned and that fascists from Kiev were coming to hurt them. At first, the so-called fascists they had in mind were members of the Right Sector, a fringe ultra-nationalist group that had played an outsized role on the front lines of the protests in Kiev, but soon the label included the new government and its supporters, who had largely ignored their concerns. Then the protesters were storming government buildings as Russia warned that it would intervene, if needed, to protect its “compatriots.” They called for a referendum on secession, like the one that saw Russia annex Crimea in March, and they took up arms. Polls showed that most Donetsk residents wanted to remain in Ukraine, but outspoken opponents of the separatists began fleeing the city amid abductions and death threats. Some who remained deleted their Facebook pages, wondering who among their friends might be tracking their loyalties. “Fear is like a virus,” one said.

But there was still hope for peace in Donetsk, the political nexus for eastern Ukraine’s separatists and an important economic hub, even as fighting flared elsewhere. Throughout the spring, some residents had looked ahead to two events that might swing things back toward normalcy: Ukraine holding fresh presidential elections and Russia recalling the troops massed along the border nearby. Both came to pass, but they did nothing to stop the conflict from surging ahead. Each side had already come to see the battle as one between irreconcilable ideas – with an enemy that had to be eradicated. The fabric that let two groups of people with their own histories coexist in post-Soviet Ukraine had been ripped away. “This city needs to be cleansed,” warned a Catholic priest at the unity vigil, and on another evening, inside an expanding, makeshift armory, a rebel in a flannel shirt said, “There is some dirt here now, and we have to clean it from our land.”

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Pastor Serhiy Kosyak. Photograph by Evgeniy Maloletka for BuzzFeed

On the afternoon before the vigil, a rebel commander from Russia sat before a bottle of bourbon at a faded desk and outlined his mission, which he said served God. He was in a bright office at the end of an unlit hall, inside a compound that used to house the Ukrainian security service. He had a welcoming smile and tattoos that ran down his arms and peeked out from his crew neck. He was a leader in a group called the Russian Orthodox Army, and he went by the nickname Veren, or “the faithful.” “First of all it’s purification of the land – purification from fascists,” Veren said. He described an awakening of Russian identity centered on Donetsk, where it was under threat, and he seemed to be an incarnation of the ideology the pastor had seen on the Russian airwaves, personally spreading it by hand. Just a few weeks earlier, he had been overseeing what seemed like a small outlaw empire from the fifth floor of the rebel headquarters, the former government building, where masked men roamed the halls and speakers blared Soviet anthems from behind sprawling barricades. As separatist politicians scurried about overhead one day, Veren said he concerned himself with “special operations” – kidnappings and interrogations. Armed men kept handing him keys to cars they’d taken from their enemies. He has since been expanding his power, trading his spot in the crowded building for the more exclusive digs of the security compound, where men with assault rifles blocked the approaches and access was controlled with an intensity that felt paranoid. The Russian Orthodox Army’s seal of a Christendom-evoking sword and shield was stenciled onto each concrete block of one outer wall. On the wall across the street, another set of rebels, the highly professional Vostok battalion, had done the same, marking turf of their own. In the new office, a Russian flag with the army’s logo hung from a bookshelf, and portraits of a fierce-looking Jesus were taped to the walls. Stickers and insignia patches sat on the desk. The first edition of the army’s newsletter had just arrived, and beneath its banner were recruitment phone numbers. It also had a website. Veren saw untapped potential in the Donetsk region’s 5 million people – and maybe across the Russian-speaking world. “People support us, but they’re afraid to take the first step,” he said. “I’m interested in any kind of promotion that gets the flow of people going.”

They had even released a promotional rap video featuring gunmen packed into the same office. It got 200,000 YouTube views in less than a week. Veren bounced his head and lip-synched the lyrics as he twisted a computer monitor around: Till last fighter, till the victorious, glorious endOn the battlefield. Russian Orthodox!Who if not us? When if not now?Mom, I’m sorry. Nobody but us.

Video available at:

Like many of the Russian nationals operating in Donetsk, Veren was something of an enigma: The dark tasks he said he employed didn’t match his amiable demeanor. He had no military experience, he said; he’d once owned a fast food chain, where he picked up his knack for marketing. He was a 34-year-old from Sochi, but his wife was from Donetsk. Rumors of covert Russian soldiers and spies – and financial and military aid – had swirled around the conflict, but Veren said he had no contact with the Russian government. He said he got his start in the separatist movement by attending the protests that erupted in March.

If he was a demon to the pastors at the prayer vigil, he was also a protector of local separatists, who believed they were largely on their own against the Ukrainian army and what they saw as its fascist allies. They worried that if enough civilians left the city, the government might bomb it. A recruit walked into Veren’s office. Overweight and nervous-looking in a button-down shirt, the young professional, 28, wasn’t built for war. But he wanted to help – he and Veren discussed whether he might do some managerial work, maybe go on neighborhood patrols. “Because I’m a conscious person,” he said when asked why he wanted to join. “And when bad things come to your house, a conscious person can’t ignore them.” With much of the whiskey, brought to the meeting as a gift, now gone, Veren described a more ambitious quality to the conflict at hand. “The Russian person should remain Russian in any nationality and any land,” he said. The rebels gathered with him in the room – some locals and others Russian – likewise spoke about their battle as if it were about more than Donetsk. One man called it a “historical conflict,” another “a conflict of mentalities.” A likeness of St. George the dragon-slayer graced the army’s flag because Russians throughout history had fought under his banner. Veren said he had started groups in nearby hotspots like Mariupol and Slavyansk – and also had his eye on Kiev, Serbia, Georgia.

But first he was building his franchise in Donetsk. Someone put the keys to an Audi on his desk. The car’s registration showed that it belonged to the company of Serhiy Taruta, the billionaire steel magnate and regional governor. Taruta had fled to Kiev recently because of death threats. Veren went down to the compound’s parking garage, empty except for a couple rows of commandeered vehicles, neatly parked. A man waiting there appeared to be working as valet.

Veren got into the Audi’s driver’s seat. “This is a good car. I’ll trade it for 20 AK-47s,” he said. It was just past sunset, and the compound was quiet as guards opened the gate so Veren could ease the car from the sealed-off rebel zone. Then he jammed the gas and sped through the city’s quiet streets. Later, as Veren and his comrades settled into a long dinner in a way that felt suddenly normal for a Friday night – they were the big, boisterous group at the restaurant carrying on happily as fellow diners tried not to mind – Fyodor, the intense young Russian who had designed the Army’s flag, gave a lesson on history. Russians made their great advances, he said, in huge, sudden leaps. The pace seems slow; the momentum builds. Then comes the exhilarating wave. “We must only run,” Fyodor said, seeming not to care where this moment would take him. “The end – it is nothing. Run to progress. Run to more.”

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Rebel commander Veren. Photograph by Evgeniy Maloletka for BuzzFeed

With darkness falling on a recent Sunday, a rebel in his fifties named Oleg wheeled a compact sedan through the city, his big frame packed into the driver’s seat. A veteran of the feared Berkut riot police, he still carried a natural authority, with his shaved head and intense blue eyes. He was headed to the airport, where a battle on May 26 had shocked the city with its violence. A mechanic who lived nearby would later remember seeing dead civilians along the roadside as he sped home to get his dog; a soldier at the airport recalled getting orders to hold fire as rebels massed outside, then watching in awe when fighter jets arrived. The bloodshed, with at least 50 rebels killed, showed that war was closing on Donetsk, and some rebels embraced it. Others, like Oleg, seemed deeply shaken. Asked if he’d been at the airport that day, he paused, looked down, and said, “Yes.” Donetsk – a relatively affluent city with riverside parks and a sparkling soccer stadium – seemed to proceed with normal life as Oleg drove past glass-walled office buildings. “It looks like there is no war. Everything is quiet – peaceful,” he said. “And we will see how that will change now.” He pulled up to the last rebel checkpoint before the road to the airport became a no-man’s-land. Shirtless men in dusty jeans worked feverishly in the fading sunlight, digging and stacking sandbags, with an eye to the approaching night. Then the sedan passed into the silence of the edge of war; the Ukrainian army was hidden in the distance somewhere. Oleg stopped the car in front of a flatbed truck. Bullet holes pocked the windshield; shoes and clothing scraps were scattered around. The back was caked in blood. Some 30 rebels had died there, Oleg said, when the truck was ambushed en route to the airport by a Ukrainian RPG team. The only sound on the deserted highway came from a billboard flapping in the wind overhead. “This cannot go without punishment,” Oleg said. A silver van pulled up suddenly, and a man in a black cap pointed a submachine gun from the driver’s side window. “Who are you?” he shouted. A young couple, holding hands, approached on the sidewalk about 100 yards away, taking slow and deliberate steps toward an apartment building set back in the trees. Bursts of gunfire echoed nearby. Then the sedan was back onto Donetsk’s busy streets. “And now there is no war. So it’s a feature of civil war,” Oleg said, meaning that sometimes people don’t recognize it until it’s right upon them. “Most people still don’t understand that this is war. But when there will be more victims and more death, they will stand up.”

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Berkut rebel commander Yuriy Sivokonenko. Photograph by Evgeniy Maloletka for BuzzFeed

“You have to respond somehow to the killing,” said another man late that night. He called himself a scientist, and his name was Mikhail. To make a tally of the dead around the truck just after the attack, he had counted their heads, since the bodies were in pieces. Then he crept in his sandals through the woods, armed only with a folding knife. When he came upon a Ukrainian soldier, he said, he killed him with the 6-inch blade. Mikhail, 56, had served in Afghanistan, but it was different this time, killing his fellow Ukrainian. “Before it was an order,” he said. “Now it’s voluntary.” He was sitting with friends inside a rebel-held building in the heart of the city, in a room where a small arsenal of guns leant against the walls. Half were old carabiners, half modern AK-74s – rebels were accumulating more weapons as they crawled deeper into the conflict. Mikhail put his folding knife on the table, and then produced the rifle of the soldier he said he had killed, with red stains along the shoulder strap. “It was covered in blood,” Mikhail said. “I washed it, and now it belongs to me.” The Kiev government was stepping up what it had termed its “anti-terrorist operation,” and the men felt it pressing closer. They thought of it as retribution – “a punishment operation” – rained down from tanks and airplanes. The rebels in the room, all former Berkut, had created a battalion, hoping to act as police, but instead they were being drawn into the war. Their burly commander, a 57-year-old martial arts instructor named Yuriy Sivokonenko, worried for his family, and had tried to ensure that his two sons wouldn’t take up arms. His wife of 32 years, meanwhile, was breaking down, spending her days, he said, “crying and praying.”

Sivokonenko said he hoped for compromise as he served homemade cognac and jam that supporters had donated. But the possibility seemed to be shrinking; the conflict had reopened past wounds and the present had become polarized. He took a book from the armoire where he kept the cognac, describing it as a key to the truths he was fighting to defend – he had always held them, but now they felt threatened by those of his neighbors. It was a beautiful hardcover with grand illustrations, detailing a glorious history of the ethnic Russian people dating back to the 14th century. Shown the book the next morning, a local historian who supports the government would dismiss it as “fairy tales and myths.”

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Sports are fun to play but they are also just as fun to watch thanks to a rich history of crazy fans and sports-specific or even team-specific traditions that have spanned across the decades. So while we fans aren’t scoring the game-winning goal, we still get heavily involved in the sport and in

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10 Stories Behind Crazy Sport Traditions

Sports are fun to play but they are also just as fun to watch thanks to a rich history of crazy fans and sports-specific or even team-specific traditions that have spanned across the decades. So while we fans aren’t scoring the game-winning goal, we still get heavily involved in the sport and in our teams through a number of ways. Below are just ten of the many traditions that have defined the “sport” of watching sports. By no means is this a comprehensive list – it was hard enough just narrowing down the list to ten even when I limited myself to only professional sports – so feel free to include any traditions, rituals and/or superstitions you want to share in the comments!

The abbreviations in the list are as follows: NHL (National Hockey League), NFL (National Football League – American football), MLB (Major League Baseball), NBA (National Basketball Association), FIFA (International Federation of Association Football)


The best way to show support for your favorite team is to proudly wear the team colors. Greater solidarity comes from tens of thousands of your fellow sports fanatics all wearing the same color. Its beginnings may have come from the NHL’s Calgary Flames during the 1986 Stanley Cup Finals. The Edmonton Oilers’s fans were in the midst of “Hat Trick Fever” as they tried to win their third consecutive championship. In response to Hat Trick Fever, Calgary promoted “C of Red” to encourage their fans to come dressed in entirely red. During next year’s first round playoffs, Calgary’s opponent responded with the “Winnipeg White Out”. Now it is extremely popular in US Universities like Penn State’s Code Blue and Virginia Tech’s Orange/Maroon Effect.


This is a fairly recent fixture in the FIFA scene even though the vuvuzela has been popular in South African games since the 1990s. The vuvuzela is a simply blow horn originally made of tin but mass-produced in plastic for games. Blowing through the mouth as you would a trumpet, the vuvuzela emits a loud monotone note similar to elephant trumpets. It’s stirred up some controversy because there are many who are trying to have them banned from the upcoming 2010 World Cup. The complains range from “too loud” to “not fit for a sports arena.” The vuvuzela supporters say that it doesn’t detract from the game anymore than anything else that fans have with them and that it is a strong part of the South African culture.


This popular hockey tradition may have gotten its inspiration from the sport of cricket. In cricket, a hat trick happens when a bowler dismisses three batsmen with consecutive deliveries. The custom crossed over to hockey with Ontario’s Biltmore Mad Hatters. When one of the players scored three goals in a game, the team owner Mr. Biltmore would present him with a new fedora. Many stories describe Mr. Biltmore throwing his top hat onto the ice to salute the player and soon enough, the fans also tossed their own hats onto the ice. After they are collected, the hats are either donated, thrown away or saved for a gigantic transparent case that showcases the franchise’s hat trick history.


During intermissions, many fans will race to the concession stand to grab some more food before the game resumes. In certain stadiums, the food does the running! The most famous is the Klement’s Sausage Race at Miller Park (home of the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers). The tradition began in the early 90s as a computer animation race on the scoreboard but they made their first live appearance in 1994. At the bottom of the sixth inning of every Milwaukee Brewers home game, employees of Miller Park and a select few highly honored guest wieners don the seven foot three inch foam costumes and race from third base down to home plate and back up to first base. To date there are five sausages: Brett Wurst the bratwurst, Stosh the Polish sausage, Guido the Italian sausage, Frankie Furter the hot dog and Cinco the Chorizo. Bratwurst is currently the race leader with eighteen wins. The race gained fame outside of baseball in July 2003 when then-Pittsburgh Pirate Randall Simon used a bat to hit Guido (worn by employee Mandy Block) on the sausage’s head. Given where he hit Guido, the bat never came near Mandy Block’s head but since the costume is so top-heavy, Guido easy fell down and took Hot Dog down as well. Simon was arrested, given a fine and suspended by the MLB for three games. Despite reprimands by the authorities, some found the situation comical. Mandy Block asked for Simon’s autograph on the infamous bat and t-shirt companies made a tidy profit with shirts saying “Don’t whack our weiner!”


The Terrible Towel is as much a symbol of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers as their three-star logo. Its creation comes from the mid-1970s after the Steelers won their first ever Super Bowl in 1974 and were strong contenders at the 1975 playoffs after winning twelve of fourteen games during the regular season. Around that time, general manager Ted Atkins, sales manager Larry Gerrett and broadcaster Myron Cope brainstormed ideas to market of the team’s success. The first idea was a mask of head coach Chuck Noll but was dismissed due to price issues. The next idea was the more cost-effective “Terrible Towel” because it was cheap, durable and easy to carry around. They had less than two weeks to promote the Terrible Towel so Myron Cope went on TV and radio telling people to bring, buy or dye a dish towel yellow, gold or black. By the next game, somewhere between 30,000-50,000 fans were spinning towels over their heads and the numbers have only grown since then. The following year, the Steeler’s franchise printed the official Terrible Towel image onto bright yellow towels and the tradition became official. All proceeds from Terrible Towel sales go to the Allegheny Valley School, which is “a residential and educational facility for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” To date, the Terrible Towel has made over $2.5 million for the Allegheny Valley School.


At the old Yankee baseball Stadium, the fans in section 39 had a history of bad behavior. They heckled visiting teams and high school marching band students, they ignored the warnings of stadium ushers, and they even badgered fellow Yankee fans who weren’t part of their tight-knit group known as the Bleacher Creatures. As a result of the bad attitudes, section 39 lacked access to the rest of the stadium and beer sales were banned in just that area. However, negotiations between the Yankee organization and the Bleacher Creatures ensured that the group would get to sit together in section 203 of the new Yankee Stadium in exchange for a some changes to a few of their more belligerent Bleacher Creature traditions. Now seen more as ‘extremely loyal fans’ rather than a group of nasty hecklers, Yankee home games aren’t really complete until they deliver their Bleacher Roll Call. At the top of the first inning, “Bald Vinny” Milano shouts the name of a Yankee player and the entire section will chant that particular baseball player’s name until he recognizes the Bleacher Creatures with a wave or salute. They will go down lineup until every Yankee player is called.

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This is a tradition that started with the NHL’s New York Islanders. From 1980 to 1983, the team won the championship and lifted Lord Stanley’s cup high above their whiskered faces. Since then, many teams and their fans have put away the razorblade for the duration of their playoff run. In addition to discussing team strategies and playoff series, fans also get into debates over which players can grow the best, worst or the most nonexistent playoff beard. Many teams will also sponsor Beard-A-Thons in which players and fans grow a playoff beard to fundraise money for various charities. The Playoff Beard tradition is strongest within hockey but it has found its way into other sports through players like the NFL’s Jake Plummer and tennis pro Björn Borg.

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Fans love to show their support by wearing their team colors. Some may take it to the next level with brightly-colored facepaint or tattoos (whether temporary or not) but there are a select few superfans who are dressed so bizarrely that everyone takes notice. The NFL’s Washington Redskins have the Hogettes. When the group was formed, no one had even thought it would become an unofficial football mascot. As founder Michael Torbert describes it, he attended a Halloween Party at his grandmother’s retirement home dressed in her tea party finest and he was so popular that he and his friends thought they could take this act to local hospitals to cheer up sick children. As lifelong Redskins fans, they decided to go attend a game in their drag wear including pig snout masks referencing the offensive linesmen who were nicknamed the “Hogs.” The Hogettes have become a fixture within the Redskins community and through their fame, they have found greater exposure for their many charities. To date, the Hogettes have raised over $100 million for various charities like the Ronald McDonald House and the March of Dimes.


Heckling is one of the least favorable traditions in pro sports fandom but jeers and taunts are as common at games as the cheers and applause. No one has a heckling career as quite as prestigious as that of Robin Ficker (above), an ardent fan of the former Washington Bullets (now known as the NBA’s Washington Wizards). For twelve years, Robin Ficker held season tickets to Washington Bullets games that were directly behind the visiting team’s bench. He would taunt players through his megaphone. He made fun of coaches’ outfits. When the Chicago Bulls came to play, Ficker would read the sex passages of Bull’s Coach Phil Jackson’s 1975 autobiography “Maverick.” He’s had some supporters over the years, including basketball player Charles Barkley who had flown him to Phoenix when his team was in the finals against the Chicago Bulls. In 1997, the former Bullets moved to the MCI Center and Ficker decided not to renew his season tickets because the new seats were too far from the visitor’s bench. He faded from the sports world for focus on his political career but has recently taken to attending and heckling at wrestling matches at the University of Maryland.

Fans Octopus 2009

A practice that remains strong for the Detroit Redwings of the NHL that (hopefully) won’t catch on with the other teams is the tossing of octopuses onto the rink. The origins of this tentacled tradition began in 1952 when fewer NHL teams meant that the road to the Stanley Cup only took eight playoff wins. To mark this occasion, brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano threw the eight-legged creature onto the ice to represent the Redwing’s eight games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. Since then, hundreds of octopuses have rained down onto the Redwing rink, including one tossed by Bob Dubisky and Larry Shotwell that weighed 50 lbs (22.68 kg). With every octopus purchased for the purpose of tossing, the Superior Fish Market gives out an “Octoquette” which is a pamphlet of recommended guidelines for octopus tossing, including boiling the octopus for half an hour (raw octopus tends to stick to the ice and leave a slimy residue when removed), launching them only after a Redwing goal as any other time may result in a Delay of Game penalty, and toss the octopus in a direction away from any players, officials and personnel.

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