10 Things We Miss About Sports Bars

Washington Nationals Fans React To Decisive Game Seven Of The World Series
Washington Nationals Fans React To Decisive Game Seven Of The World Series / Samuel Corum/Getty Images

With the coronavirus lockdown entering yet another week, American sports fans have been cut off from one of our most reliable staples: sports bars. With sports and social contact out the window, it's been a while since any of us have been able to hit up a bar with a ton of televisions to relax, drink, eat and take in a ton of games at once.

We've been thinking about it a lot and we're even missing the things we loathe about sports bars. Here's our complete list of the things we currently wish we had back.

The Pens

It never fails. Every time you get the check back after the server has run your credit card, the pen somehow fails its most basic function. It always does that thing where a little ink comes out when you start signing your name, then runs out and just imprints on the paper like you're grinding out cuneiform on a slab in Sumer 6,000 years ago. It's always at that moment when your server disappears to have a long, soulful cry in the walk-in freezer and you can't get anyone else to help you. Then when you do finally flag him or her down, half the time the replacement pen doesn't work either. It's a delicate, haunting dance we all do when trying to extricate ourselves from the soft embrace of our local sports bar. I'd gladly deal with those dreadful seven-year-old writing utensils from hotels or doctors your server has definitely never been to. I miss those bad pens so much. - Ryan Phillips

My Shoes Sticking to the Floor

The mark of a well-worn drinking establishment comes in the form of how much effort it takes you to lift one foot after another. A good dive bar has years of spilled liquor congregating on the ground, conspiring to ruin the bottom of your Air Maxes. Normally that's the worst part about any bar. But right now I'd do just about anything to feel like I'm walking through rum mud to order a drink. Or to feel anything, but that's neither here nor there. - Liam McKeone

Overzealous Baseball Fans

One of the most annoying things to others is when you hear a baseball fan clapping after every strike and sucking their teeth after every ball. It's an American pastime for someone in that bar to point over their shoulder at that person and say, "relax bro, it's the first inning." Boy, what I wouldn't give to have that experience back. Love 'em or hate 'em, the baseball fans celebrating every moment of a game are the people I want to sit next to and talk shop. Maybe not the whole game, but at least the final few innings. - Brian Giuffra

That One TV Stuck On ESPN Classic

Every sports bar has one TV on anything but the sporting event you're trying to watch. Even in the middle of March Madness, one prominently-placed screen will be permanently pinned on ESPN Classic. While everyone else is enjoying the big game, you'll be stuck watching AWA wrestling or a Knicks regular season game from the mid-70s. No matter how much you beg or plead, they won't change the channel because it will mess with their "system." There's no system! It's all a lie! I'm the furthest thing from a conspiracy theorist, but something is going on with that TV and the bar thinks they can fool us all. And I'd be damn happy to be complaining about it right now. - Phillips

Free Shots

When the bartender's team is doing well, shots are (sometimes) on the house. I could go for a free drink right about now. - Giuffra


There's a very real chance this practice never returns in any capacity, much less in a probably less-than-sanitary bar surrounded by strangers. But damn it all if there are few feelings in this world better than watching your team do something good and celebrating by high-fiving literally everyone within arms' reach. Yes, even the guy who clearly doesn't want to high-five you but grudgingly agrees after a chorus of "Come on!" from his neighbors. Tipsy camaraderie at its finest, and I miss it so. - McKeone

The Bathrooms

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Every bathroom at a true sports bar looks like someone forgot to clean it before close the night before and had nothing more than an emergency wipe-down before opening. There's always one stall where doesn't work, the sink either has too much water pressure or not enough, and either the soap or paper towel dispensers are empty. It's always one or the other and sometimes both. I miss complaining about that. - Phillips

Broken Neon Alcohol Signs

You know you're in an authentic sports bar when there's at least one broken neon sign hanging on the wall and (as a bonus) still plugged into the electrical socket. It displays the fine logos of libations past and reminds you of the first time you went in there a decade earlier and noticed the light was out. Nostalgia is a beautiful thing. - Giuffra

The Grizzled Server

Every sports bar has that one server who has been at the restaurant for 20 years and they are not here for your pleasantries. No matter how much you try to engage, he or she will never give you much of anything back. You're sure there's a warm, soft center under that adamantium-like outer shell, but you're never going to get there. Just mind your business, pay your check and go on with your life, because they moved on from getting to know you the second you sat down. - Phillips

Flat Beer

Thee's a right of passage every sports bar patron experiences when they order a beer and it's served sans carbonation. What to do? Certainly not send it back. No, you must finish you beer and complain about it to the person on the stool next to you. Of course, you say you're just letting them know so they don't make the same mistake. But really you just want to complain to someone, and who knows, that someone could become a drinking buddy for years to come. - Giuffra

Not Watching the Game

Remember being around people and going out to meet your friends under the guise of watching a game that you could easily watch at home? The social and communal aspect of sports is what makes them so special. The tradition of getting together for a shared interest and then letting that interest wash into the background as the drinks start flowing and you follow tangents about what you're doing this week and things you've done in the past. Remember that time? Yeah, me too. Want to do it again next week? Sure, who's playing? Who cares? - Stephen Douglas