Why you should care
Because sports bar etiquette belongs in sports bars.
You’re out at your favorite bar. It’s the kind of place where the bartenders have master’s degrees in organic wine from Parisian universities and the regulars speak eight different languages. Come 9 o’clock, there’s a comfortable cacophony of laughter, intelligent debate and courtship rituals. This wine, these strangers, this one-of-a-kind spot on a hidden-away, history-rich street — it’s why you live in a city. And then one night you hear something new and unexpected. It goes like this, at logic-defying decibels:
Time to go home. Time to find a new local. The American bro has invaded your watering hole — with half a dozen of his closest drinking buddies, naturally. He travels in packs.
“You see that crew and you do a little stutter step and want to run in the opposite direction,” says Matt, 26, a bartender at a beerhouse in Brooklyn, New York. A type of jock that embodies the fraternity ethos of partying — loudly, wherever — and drinking to excess, bros have spawned ethnographies, entries in Urban Dictionary and at least one protest, when Dropbox dudes tried to kick neighborhood kids off their soccer field in San Francisco. Once self-segregated to sports bars, they’re increasingly encroaching on quieter, more sophisticated territory, to the dismay of everyone from waitstaff to customers. Matt, for one, dropped from full time to one shift a week and found a second job because the bro factor became unbearable. “The crowd has gotten too screamy, aggressive, rude and drunk,” he says. “Way more drunk.”
We’ve got a remedy, if not for disrupted patrons then at least for the people who have to serve the alcohol on which the unruly get black-out drunk. We call it a bro tax. When four or more bros enter a bar or restaurant (including seedy neighborhood dives but excluding sports bars), an immediate tax of 24 percent to 28 percent shall be added to their tab.
You might be wondering how such a tax would be implemented. When four or more suspected bros enter — telltale attire includes company hoodies, logo vests and the classic oxford shirt and khakis — the bartender or maître d’ should grunt, “Hey, bro. ’Sup?” If the response is a polite “Doing well, thank you. And yourself?” or if the host suddenly notices someone in the party with his nose in a hardback by Žižek or Ta-Nehisi Coates, it’s a clear case of mistaken identity. Sometimes a logo vest is just a logo vest. But if a sea of fists rises, ready for a bump? You damn well charge the bro tax.
Not everyone sees the American bro as a nuisance that should be taxed to kingdom come. When I called Malatesta Trattoria, a West Village, NYC, restaurant with a known bro problem, a staffer told me archly, “We do just fine with everyone. We don’t discriminate.” And on a recent night at my own Lower East Side haunt, my bartender Nick shrugged. “They don’t bother me more than the general population,” he said, adding that they’re no more rude than anyone else. “They can be awesome people.”
Others say resistance is futile. Van Smith, a longtime resident of perennially bro-y Fell’s Point, Baltimore, says, “Bros are everywhere, ever invading, except at certain times.” His sage counsel: Go out early. “Day drinkers rarely encounter bros.”
Hey, brah. You and that sweet logo vest should fist-bump our comments section.