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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To Boo or Not to Boo...

I'm coming right out off the bat and saying I'm an anti-boo guy. Not a big fan of the boo. The boo originated in Ancient Greece. Playwrights would compete to determine whose tragedy was the best. The audience would either applaud to show its pleasure or shout or whistle to show its disapproval. The boo was born. Defined as an exclamation of contempt or disapproval, the boo has been used for centuries by crowds to deride a performer or athlete, especially by uttering a prolonged boo. In Ancient Rome during the gladiatorial games, where audience participation often determined whether a competitor lived or died, jeering was also en vogue.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, I've been meaning to write about the booing of Big Brown and/or jockey Desormeaux after pulling up at the Belmont. I actually didn't hear it as I was sitting too far away from the sections where the boos were emanating from. I read about it in the New York papers the next day and in various racing forums. It brought back bad memories for me. Not the memory of Bob Dylan being booed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival bringing tears to his eyes, as I was only two, but various events that have taken place over the years. Being born near Philly, as a young child my grandfather took me to all kinds of Philadelphia sporting events, and man, those folks are the toughest fans I've ever been around. Some of us might even remember when Santa Claus was booed at halftime of an Eagles bad is that! Those were two famous "booings" in the sixties. I think I was booed once or twice during my basketball career in the 70s and 80s, but I have a low frequency hearing problem, which is how I must have missed most of the booin (though my 33% college senior year FG percentage could have warranted a boo or two).

The day I decided I really was not a big fan of the boo was October 21, 1991. The site was Rich Stadium on a Monday Night. I was in my usual position in the seventh row in section 336 upper deck. Hall of Famer Jim Kelly threw three interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half and they trailed miserably at halftime. The boo birds (defined as "fans who boo the home team when the team loses or is playing badly") were out in full force and getting on Jimbo mercilessly. I remember shushing someone in my section saying, "A gunslinger keeps firing until his chamber is empty." Well, Jim self-fulfilled my prophecy and threw a then-MNF record five touchdowns in the second half to lead the Bills to a come from behind victory. Those same blow-hards were cheering him by the end of the game. I guess you had to participate in sport to understand that if you are giving it your best effort, good things don't always happen. It's not like he meant to throw those picks. The next time the boo birds surfaced at the Stadium was in January 1993 in the famous Bills playoff comeback game against the Oilers. The fans were letting backup QB Frank Reich have it (I'll admit that I called for his replacement at halftime in a friendly rest room conversation, sans booing) especially after throwing a pick early in the 3rd quarter to go down 35-3. We won that game too with the biggest comeback in a playoff game in NFL history. Boo birds silenced again.

I realize the counter argument is that one buys a ticket thus he/she has the freedom to cheer or boo whoever he/she wants under his/her constitutional rights. I 'm just sayin' what does this accomplish? Does it help your team do better through motivation? Does booing a horse make you feel better? Some say they were booing the connections. The connections got what they deserved, but no need to pile on folks...ask Shaq where that got him.

I'm just an anti-boo guy. What can I say.

Other definitions of boo not covered in this post can be found here.


Winston said...

I am not a Bills fan but my best friend is, so I am familiar with your kind.

I was watching that game against the Oilers and rooting for the Bills...I shut it off at halftime and took a nap.


EquiSpace said...


Best game I've ever been at. Bar none. Game wasn't televised here and people were jumping back over the fences in the 3rd qtr when the comeback started to get back into the stadium...high comedy.

Thanks for reading.


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