A story that's made its way through Cincinnati Reds country the past 35 or so years recounts how Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman used to spend the innings Joe Nuxhall called play-by-play for the Reds leaning back in his chair perusing novels and other non-baseball written material.

A story that's made its way through Cincinnati Reds country the past 35 or so years recounts how Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman used to spend the innings Joe Nuxhall called play-by-play for the Reds leaning back in his chair perusing novels and other non-baseball written material.

"If that happens again," former Reds general manager Dick Wagner reportedly told Brennaman upon hearing the story, "you're gone."

Not then the Hall of Famer with carte blanche that he is now, Brennaman acquiesced.

I've never done that at any event I've covered - I swear, boss, and I know you're reading this - but I have been known to kick back and take up a few rows, especially at soccer games if I get room in the bleachers.

I was guilty of this at a recent area game, until a primal scream from a few rows behind me made me think someone was going into labor.

Turns out a parent was none too happy with a referee's call - who knew, eh? - and decided to let the person know - from the press box.

At most levels of sports, if not all, press boxes and emotion go together like Brady Hoke and the words "Ohio State," or at least they should.

For sportswriters, it ranks right up there with quotes of "no one respects us" and "we have better chemistry than last year."

At the college and pro levels, cheering in the press box earns a stern reprimand and, on rare occasions, ejection. That's not realistic at the high school level, where workers often are parents or friends of the competitors, nor should it be.

But when there's a job to be done, something of an automaton mode has to take over.

Sure, it doesn't sound like fun. If it's fun you're after, there's plenty of room in the stands.

Don't take me for an ogre. Some of my most humorous memories of covering games at the high school and college levels find their roots in others cheering from the press box.

I'll never forget covering a football game in 2002 during which the statistician of the team I covered leapt off his stool when his team got a fumble and, at a volume just below a roar, yelled "That's our ball! That's our ball!"

My memory might have embellished the moment, but I swear he raced half the length of the press box.

I'll cut him a break because he always was good to me, bled that team's colors long before I arrived and, I am fairly certain, throughout the six years I've been gone from that paper. That's not to mention his team lost that game 51-45 in overtime.

Four years later, for a different paper, I was covering a basketball tournament in Wooster and sat next to a hometown radio announcer I'd known for some time. As it turned out, the team he was covering was playing his alma mater, and he took advantage of the rare work visit home to have his dad sit next to him.

That wouldn't have been a problem if the dad wasn't vocally rooting against the team his son was broadcasting for, complaining about almost every call that didn't go his team's way. I admired the son for staying neutral, as he should, but wished he'd have asked his dad to leave the seat he never should have had in the first place. For my part, I simply wanted to remind him some teams simply foul more than others, then duck.

Buying a ticket enables fans to cheer, boo and otherwise express support or displeasure within reason. That's a big reason the OHSAA requires public-address announcers to read the same monologue about sportsmanship that's been a staple at events longer than I and probably most of you can remember.

The privilege of not having to buy a ticket and sit in a seat with a back - hopefully, anyway - carries its own expectations.

It doesn't mean you're not a fan. It just means for a couple hours, there's a job to be done.

After that, it's back to business, so to speak.