By Robert Weintraub

Fan behavior is much in the news this week. So I've done the sports world a service by putting together this handy guide to dos and don'ts when you head to the stadium (or don't).

1. Leaving Games Early

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Patriots fans are getting off far easier than their opposite numbers down in Miami, who became a national punchline after the aisles cleared late in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, only to miss the Heat's epic comeback. Those supposed diehards from Boston, the same ones who were such devoted football fans that the Patriots nearly moved out of town in the 1990s, evacuated Gillette Stadium like it was on fire after Tom Brady misfired on fourth-and-six, then threw a pick a minute later. Those fans got to hear Scott Zolak lose his mind on the radio in the car when Brady found Kenbrell Thompkins in the dying seconds, but don't get to crow about being at such a memorable game.

That said, I back the rights of both sets of fans bail early on games and not be called out for it. The .00001 percent chance of witnessing miracles as happened in Beantown on Sunday scarcely counterbalances the torture of the two hours it takes to get home after games, especially during the week when the hour is already pushing midnight. The real shock was how many fans were still in Foxboro when the Pats pulled it out.

By the by, next time you see replays of Kirk Gibson's famous homer, take note of the red brake lights beyond the fence as the ball arcs out of the park. Those are Dodgers fans trying (futilely, no doubt) to beat the notorious southland traffic.

2. Cheering Injuries To Players

Verdict: Thumbs Down

It's hard to muster much sympathy for the modern athlete, but the main exception is the NFL player, who suffers mightily so that we may ignore our families every Sunday while refreshing fantasy updates. Alas, their pain is no fantasy, which is why the cheering of an agonized Matt Schaub (who had badly injured an ankle) in Houston by frustrated Texans fans was so offputting. As it was when Chiefs fans cheered an injury to underwhelming quarterback Matt Cassel a year ago, and when Eagles fans cheered the sight of an unconscious Michael Irvin several years back, etc. Texans players labeled the cheering "barbaric," "disgusting" and "ridiculous," among other descriptors. Clearly, their ethics are more fine tuned than their offensive execution thus far this season.

Of course, since the league treats the players as disposable warriors, like extras in a Game of Thrones battle sequence, it's small wonder the fans follow suit.

3. Throwing Back Home Run Balls

Verdict: Thumbs Down

I admit my judgment may be colored by the fact that in my many years at the ballpark I've yet to grab a ball, foul or fair. I know this, however: Should I be fortunate enough to snag a homer hit by a visiting player, the chances I'm tossing that gold nugget back on the field are less than zero. How did we collectively decide there was honor in giving back one of the few free souvenirs with cachet that are available in this modern, over-commodified society? Cubs fans started this nonsense, and I think it goes without saying that imitating them is a lost cause.

And this behavior often leads to further fascistic tendencies, as witnessed in Boston on Sunday night.

4. Storming The Field

Verdict: Thumbs Sideways

One of my earliest memories as a sports fan is Yankees first baseman Chris Chambliss homering to win the 1976 ALCS, then dodging hundreds of fans as he circled the bases. This was back in the "Bronx is Burning" days, and the fans nearly killed Chambliss in their substance-fueled zeal. I adopted the "Chambliss" from then on as a goal celebration in soccer, lowering my shoulder and desperately evading my teammates.

I'm not sure they got it, but I digress.

I also stormed the Carrier Dome court and field a few times as a student at Syracuse, so I understand the intense adrenaline rush of the moment. The problem is fans now rush the floor after beating Athletes in Action during preseason games. These days most invasions are about as organic as a tube of Cheez Whiz. So unless your team has just beaten the top-ranked squad in the country, or your arch-rivals, please stay in your seats.

5. Using the Stadium/Arena/Park As a Conference Room

Verdict: Thumbs Down

Venture capitalists plot the newest tech gizmo to overtake our lives at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Hollywood types schmooze deals at Lakers games. Politicians ignore the public while fighting for seats next to Dan Snyder in his Washington, D.C., owner's box. And of course, Yankee Stadium was built entirely for corporations to hold meetings in the Bronx instead of Manhattan. You half expect the out of town scoreboard to run the Dow and NASDAQ stock prices.

It's bad enough the leagues have sold out completely to their sponsors. Do we really need to turn the ballpark into gotomeeting.com, with the game as mere background?

6. Drinking Excessively

Verdict: Thumbs Down

This is a tricky one. On the whole, sports drunkenness is a big reason why going to games can suck, and why many fans prefer staying home. From beer muscled toughs starting fights (or worse) to horrible language to the specter of drunk drivers heading home en masse, drinking is the cause of much tsuris, despite alcohol's long and glorious relationship with sports. I gave up drinking years ago, and I have two little kids I am just starting to take to games, so on the surface there is no way I should get behind sucking down several brews and making an ass of yourself at the ballgame, especially at those prices.

And yet: One can't deny the simple perfect combination of a beer and a ballgame, so long as moderation applies. As the great intellectual Alfred Kazin pointed out, "There are times drinking is not just in the air, it is almost a moral necessity." And how do you think Kazin got so smart, anyway?

7. Aping Refs By Making Holding or Travelling Calls From The Stands

Verdict: Thumbs Down

We all know the signal for pass interference, dude, so stop pushing me in the back on every pass play.

8. Overdressing In Team Gear

Verdict: Thumbs Up

OK, so grown men wearing oversized Blackhawks sweaters around town isn't the greatest look. But inside the arena, it's Prada. I say this as the proud sporter of a vintage 1988 Boomer Esiason jersey on game day, so mock me as you will.

9. Voting To Use Public Money To Fund New Stadia

Verdict: Thumbs Down

Our own Patrick Hruby wrote an exhaustive and masterful essay detailing just how welfare for owners is a plague on the sporting scene. All I have to add is that it is truly moronic for fans to spend time railing against the high costs of everything associated with attending sports events, then turning around and allowing billionaires to suck off the public teat.

10. Staying Home

Verdict: Thumbs Up

I live in Atlanta, a city always mocked by the chattering class because its denizens don't sellout games played by perennially losing franchises, unlike the lemmings in other cities. Staying home from the game is so clearly the way to consume sports that the leagues are in a panic over the fact. And I say that as someone who is so devoted to attending live events that I went to the WNBA Finals the other night! I've been to countless games in countless cities across the world, not even factoring in those I've covered as a media type.

But nothing is as repellent as scolds telling fans how to spend their hard-earned money. Everyone involved in sports is overflowing with the green stuff, except the average fan. If he or she wants to not waste the price of the cable bill, drink and eat affordably, leave the car in the garage, and not be a zombie at work the next day, no one can possibly criticize that decision.

* * *

Robert Weintraub is the author of the books The Victory Season and The House That Ruth Built. He writes regularly for the New York Times, ESPN.com, Football Outsiders, CJR, Slate and many others. Follow him on Twitter @robwein.