It's a dumb word whose intent is to publicly criticize, scare someone or, as "boo-boo", indicate injury. All negative.
As such, there's too much booing in sports.
A total of 68 college basketball teams came into this week with a chance to win an NCAA championship. And 67 seasons will end in sadness. That's about 1,000 sad kids.
Maybe they're sad because they're competitors. Maybe they're graduating. Hopefully they're not regretting a mistake.
You, the fan, will be sad because you're a "true fan." And when you get worked up, you yell. Maybe your guy misses a free throw and you scream, "What's your problem?" Or maybe he misses a rebound and you wail, "Box out!" Or maybe they're messing up your precious, precious bracket.
What do you hope to accomplish? Will it make them feel worse? Impossible. Will it make them practice harder? Impossible.
Booing, in this case, is a selfish act reminiscent of preteen bullying. And it quite likely decreases your team's chances at victory.
We don't boo in everyday life. Literally there is nary an everyday situation in which it's appropriate or common for people to boo (picture a booing soloist -- I bet they look belligerent, and probably overweight and probably forgot to wear shoes with their OshKosh B'Gosh). We need the anonymity of the crowd or the privacy of our TV den or the Internet to feel comfortable booing, which makes it a cowardly act. (Thanks for nothing, Twitter -- it may only take three characters to boo, but give an angry fan 140, and he'll get you an R-rating.)
If mistakes weren't part of sports, wouldn't you have been a D-1 athlete?
I've heard alumni from my school refer to 19-year-old-kids as "bums." I, sir, would boo you if it wouldn't be misconstrued in the sporting context. You define a "bum" as someone who throws an incompletion? As a kid who, on top of taking a full load of classes, is spending all his free time during the best years of his life practicing his whatnot off to go out and play a game gratis for your low-brow enjoyment, and you’re booing them? Stay classy, "true fan."
Remember how self-conscious you were as a young athlete, Mr. Not-LeBron James? Imagine if instead of wondering what people are saying behind your back, thousands of people boo you to your face. Hello, performance anxiety!
I made the last out of my little league (and entire baseball) career in a playoff game with the tying run on third. I punted my helmet and burst into tears, and though I had zero career at bats thereafter, if I had, and if people had booed (for the sake of the example, let's refer to them as "my parents"), my batting average during that at bat would’ve been 0.000. And it would've been (partly) your fault. And I would've cried. Again. While making eye contact with you before mouthing, "Why did you marry him?" to your trophy bride.
I've compiled a list of when you can get away with a gentle ribbing, and if followed I expect booing to decrease dramatically (and athletic performance to increase slightly).
1. When to Boo
• Members of Your Biggest Rivals: This is what's called "respectful booing," because as much as it pains you to admit it, you boo them because they're competitive and live next door and their wife has one of those jerseys that's half their team's and half yours and insists she doesn't care who wins and you hate her for it but can't deny she's hotter than your wife.
• Dirty Players/Criminals/Cheaters: Flagrant foul injures your guy? Boo. A quarterback ran a dog fighting ring? Boo. Steroids? Boooooooooooooooooo. Everyone has a right to boo Jim Tressel forever, because he compromised the integrity of the sport you love by wearing sweater vests. Wait, he did what else, you say? Oh my, that's much worse. BOO!
• Booing Clichés: Psyching out free throws, the opposing pitcher tries to pickoff the runner, playing for the Washington Generals, etc. I suspect a visiting free throw shooter would be more likely to miss in a dead silent arena than with everyone booing.
• Loafers (aka "John Calipari's shoes"): You can't fault a guy for trying, but you can absolutely fault him for not trying. Your favorite player should never take a shower at halftime in hopes of beating postgame traffic.
• NASCAR drivers: Because they can’t hear you over those engines anyway. And because sometimes your favorite driver’s biggest rival gets sponsored by your favorite brand of mustache straightener.
2. When It's Not Okay to Boo Referees/Officials
• Maybe this list will warrant content once basketball officials grasp what exactly constitutes a charge.
In America we're fortunate to have most of the best athletes in the world in most of our favorite sports. Unfortunately, we don't always support them with the best fans.
Dare I say golf got it right when they shut people up?
Follow the humoristic stylings of Ryan Stayton @rynoisneato.