So while I was stranded in the airport hotel last Thursday, I ventured down to the lobby to get myself a treat. Okay, I mean dinner, but I can’t help it, I had to follow through on the joke; I love that little jingle (as visions of smiling bags of popcorn, candy bars, and soda-filled, straw-poked cups strut through my head--click the title of this entry if this is now in your head too!).
As I was trapped in a hotel on a street with nothing but other hotels, the only thing going was the “Champions” sports bar on the first floor off the hotel lobby. I entered and looked around, knowing in seconds that whatever I was getting from this place was going to be gotten “to go.”
Let me add that I looked and felt like a disaster. I had missed my flight, which landed me in this predicament. I was a sweaty, stressy freakshow in scoop neck brown cotton t-shirt, black and white flowy skirt and Rocket Dog skull and heart flip flops—comfortable for a plane trip, cute in its own bohemian way, but not quite what you wear to a sports bar—or any sit down type place—for dinner.
The server arrived and gave me a menu. In the time between making my choice and paying the bill, I observed my surroundings. Sports Bar. Sports + Bar. Sports. Bar. Because nothing says “sports” like eating (even that’s a sport—competitive eating!), I suppose the concept of a “Sports bar” is a natural development. Sports bars have been around a long time, but to qualify as one, there are certain requirements. (Don’t get scared away by the whole “bar” definition. While these places usually do contain a bar, they also have regular tables and chairs and booths. “Bar” just sounds cooler than “restaurant.” “Pub” also works if you want to go for some Luck o' the Irish flair, but at a minimum, you’d better make sure you have Guinness in your drink selection).
And now I present the three universal elements that make up a bona fide sports bar.
1) Multiple TVs. You can’t just have the old 27” clunker hitched up in the corner of the wall these days—no! A sports bar requires no less than three flat screens clustered above the bar and a section of wall dedicated to the mother of all flat screens—five feet by six feet at least, consisting of a projection image or a collection of smaller monitors feeding into the big picture. A spattering of flat screens around the rest of the restaurant and the TV requirement is good to go. Oh, and I feel silly mentioning the obvious, but all of these TVs must be tuned into sports at all times. Don’t think of this as a restriction—think of the possibilities—softball, curling, poker*, basketball, hunting**, pool**, table tennis**, bowling**, hockey, fishing**! You can even watch all of those simultaneously if your peripheral vision is up to the task.
*Not a sport, but it has a World Series, so it gets in through some weird loophole, apparently.
**questionable—I’m not going to attempt to explain
2) The crap on the walls
No, no…not literally (I seem to have a running problem with using the wrong word to describe something perfectly innocent—just look at the blog’s title). I’m talking about photos of sports teams, framed jerseys, tools associated with various sports—crossed Lacrosse sticks hung strategically over an entrance, a football helmet strapped to the wall—you get the point. Nothing says sports like musty old sports equipment hanging from the walls of the place where you consume food and beverage.
3) The attire of the servers. Well we’ve gotten through the décor of the eating establishment, so the other piece of the puzzle—the people! In “Champions” the servers wore referee shirts. Nice touch, after my initial thought that they looked like cast offs from Foot Locker, I realized, hey, the servers are the refs, which must me—we--the patrons, are the “players,” the stars of the show, the ones getting all the “play!” Makes sense—the name of the bar is “Champions” so therefore “we are the Champions…”