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Just The Sports: When Should You Boo? In A Word, Never

Just The Sports

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

When Should You Boo? In A Word, Never

You boo to voice your displeasure with the goings-on of the sports world. You boo because you think it makes a difference in the outcome of a game. You boo your team's players, your team's opponents' players, and you even boo the officials because it makes you feel like a part of the game and not just the idle spectator you really are.

Sorry, bud, I really hate to break it to you, but your booing has no more impact on the game you are watching than the Queen of England has over what laws are passed in Parliament.

While it may be fun to boo and a good way to release your frustration at how insignificant a role you play in sports, there is nothing productive about the act, unless you consider making yourself look ridiculous and slightly insane productive. If such is the case with you, then you should probably stop reading now because you are already beyond the realms of logical thinking. However, if you want to understand why exactly your booing is so foolish, then read on.

Let's examine three reasons where a fan is most likely to boo and why the fan would be better served keeping his or her mouth shut.

Paying For The Right To Boo

One of my favorite defenses for booing and also one of the more popular ones is the notion that by purchasing a ticket a fan has also purchased the rights to boo whomever he wants whenever he wants if the quality of the game does not live up to his expectations. In case no little birdie has ever informed certain fans of this fact, booing is free. One can boo just as well at home sitting in front of the television and have the same impact on the game (i.e., none) as the guy in the upper decks bellowing furiously at players and officials who either cannot hear him or are ignoring him. Paying for a ticket no more provides a fan with a license to boo than does buying a cup of coffee give me the right to then throw it on my server because I do not like the taste.

Furthermore, no fan should expect a competitive game full of stellar plays simply because it was the one he or she bought a ticket for. Nowhere on a ticket stub do the words "game guaranteed to be a memorable one" appear so this particular sense of entitlement carried around by fans has absolutely no basis in reality. Perhaps the real person the fan should be booing is himself or herself for being so foolish as to spend good money on a game that has a strong likelihood of being of no higher quality than an American Idol marathon.

Booing To Teach A Lesson

This is another gem of a reason to boo. While the reason could be construed as a fan's attempt to teach a moral lesson, in this instance, I am talking about when a fan boos in an attempt to let his own favorite team's players know that he expects more from them, performance-wise. Newsflash, Einstein. When a baseball player strikes out with two outs and the winning run on third base or a football player misses a penalty kick or a American football kick shanks a game-winning field goal, the player does not walk off the field confused as to whether he did a good or a bad thing. He does not wait for the reaction of the fans to decide if he should celebrate or be sad. He already knows, rendering fan's booing a moot point.

What is a fan trying to accomplish by booing a player when he is down? If the fan is trying to toughen the player up emotionally and force him to perform at a higher level to match expectations, then the fan is wasting his time. Booing never raises the level of play no matter how long or loudly a person may do it. More likely the end result will be a budding hatred toward fans who boo a player one day and then cheer him the next.

Booing A Former Favorite Player

An aspect of professional sports every fan secretly knows, but few actually choose to acknowledge is the fact that sports is first, and foremost, a business. Fans living outside of reality may want to believe that the players they root for love the franchise as much as they do, that the players also live and die with each game, and that the players hate the same teams the fans do with the same amount of passion, but it is simply not the case. True, players may say those things, but only because castigation would be sure to follow if they spoke only the truth. In actuality, a player's love for a franchise is directly correlated to the salary he receives commensurate to his own perceived market value. So when a player leaves one franchise for another it is purely business. However, fans and their love of saying the word "boo" choose not to understand such an idea.

Case in point is the treatment fans gave Johnny Damon, now centerfielder for the New York Yankees, on his return to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. The same fans who loved and revered him before turned around and booed him unmercifully and made t-shirts about him. For what? Because he accepted a contract from a team willing to overpay him for his services? Is that what the defintion of traitor is these days?

The way in which the fans booed Damon would lead one to think he had changed in some way or killed all their dogs for fun. Rather, they were booing the exact player they had cheered before he signed a more lucrative contract. Damon plays the same way for the Yankees as he did for the Red Sox. All that has changed in the situation is the jersey Damon now dons before heading out onto the field.

A simple analogy to further illustrate the asininity of booing would be if FedEx employees began booing a former colleague for accepting a job with UPS because of better pay and benefits. To the casual observer, the FedEx workers booing would appear to be imbeciles and the same could be said for fans who like to boo under identical circumstances.

For now and the rest of eternity, booing is better left to the ghosts.


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