Booing never makes much sense. Sure, there are fans who say things like “I was booing the coach, not the players,” or the like, but you can’t make some people on the field/court/rink/chess table hear it and not others. It’s a boo. And unless it’s for a crappy call by the ref, it only compounds a frustrating situation for the athletes. That, and it reflects very poorly on the fan base as a whole.
(By the way, if they were booing his ridiculous beard thing, all commentary below is recalled.)
Maryland basketballer Greivis Vasquez is acutely aware of this, which made for a positively frosty night in College Park last night. According to the WASHINGTON POST (thanks, MR. IRRELEVANT), Vasquez violated Rule #1 of Booing Management 101, which is simple: never, ever, ever engage the fans. When booed after a missed free throw or a bad play, he shushed the fans with his finger or told them to, ahem, “shut the (expletive) up.” Over and over.
When Vasquez missed a shot or made a mistake, a cluster of Maryland students either booed the guard or yelled for Vasquez to shape up. And Vasquez responded at least three times by turning toward his classmates (once while dribbling the ball), putting his index finger over his lips and telling them to “Shut the [expletive] up!”
Vasquez, to his credit, didn’t back off when the press naturally started asking questions after the game. Rather than give boilerplate, noncommital answers like “the frustration of the game was really getting to me at the time,” Vasquez threw down the gauntlet, challenging the Maryland fans’ loyalty to the program:
“If they don’t believe in us, they can get the hell out. We don’t need them anyway. We need the people who will support us, who are with us. I know they are all happy now, but they didn’t believe in us when we were down.”
Ziller at THE SPORTING BLOG wonders if this won’t turn off potential owners when Vasquez hits the next level, musing if they’ll balk at they’ll draft someone who told fans to get out, but when was the last time you ever saw a headline like “ATHLETE’S COMMENTS PUSH DOWN TICKET SALES”? Yes, fans booing at an arena are buying seats just like everyone else, but it’s an untenable-at-best situation. How are you going to draw new fans to a negatively-charged atmosphere where the fans act like they can disrespect the players with impunity? Is that really the type of image you want to cultivate? If anything, more athletes should take Vasquez’s lead and go right after the throats of the immature, unsportsmanlike fans who effectively ruin the game for those–athletes and fans alike–who are trying to enjoy it.
Look, when a player isn’t performing up to standards, be they his/hers or yours, he or she is acutely aware of it. Booing them isn’t going to help anything; it’s not like they’ll say “wait a second, it wasn’t okay to throw a pass 3 yards behind a guy on 3rd and 4? Weird! Thanks guys!” and then shape up and start throwing frozen ropes all over the place. It doesn’t happen. Stay respectful and supportive of your team of choice next time, and should you get the urge to boo, take Vasquez’ advice and shut the (fornicate) up.