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Boo to the Booing

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  • Boo to the Booing

    [There are almost fourteen hundred words here, so fair warning to those with lesser amounts of time.]

    Here’s the thing about booing as I see it. Quite simply, when used as easily (and speedily) as Toronto fans sometimes do - more so than many other fan bases; not all of course, but certainly more than many - it suggests an ‘air of entitlement’.

    Scanning comments on the main RR page over the last several days, seeing a whole array of reasons (that are really justifications) regarding the act of booing (as well as those who are against it) I casually wondered if I could find a way to express how I feel about it without pissing off a slew of posters, most of whom I respect as much as one can in the mostly nameless cyber world of RR - and those who tend to defend the act of booing are usually coming from a place of pissed-off-ness to begin with, so ... there’s that - but random thoughts typed on a page (draft-form) suggests that it mightn’t be easy. But I’ll try, anyway.

    A couple of seasons back, I had the opportunity to sit courtside for a Raptors game and while I’d been to many games before, I’d never sat courtside. I’m not sure I’d want season’s tickets there - it’s almost too close to really see the action as it develops and plays out - but ... I’m sure I’d get used to the view (and probably grow to love it) as time went along. The biggest thing that made an impression however, was that being close enough to feel (through the chair and my feet - again, right on the court) the ball bouncing and the running, was seeing how very YOUNG they all were. For some reason, both the missus and I were astonished (not too strong a word) that up that close, we could see that they looked younger than our oldest kid. (Partial disclosure: our oldest is now twenty-three. Got started early.) To our eyes, they were closer to ‘boys’ than they were ‘men’.

    Last night as I divided my attention between the Raptors in Detroit, the Blue Jays home opener and a bit of work I was doing on my laptop, I saw good ole Alex Rios come to the plate, to a rousing chorus of boos. I watched his at-bat (he struck out) and as he walked back to his dugout, one couldn’t help notice a couple of yahoos ... I mean ‘gentlemen’, who were frantically gesturing and calling out to him, about as energetically as they could while staying in the vicinity of their seats (good seats; first section between home plate and first base), one of them vigorously giving him the finger (with both hands) and calling out lord-knows-what ... and I thought to myself, “yup, we’re in Toronto”. I stopped to think about what I had just thought - it seemed worthy of a quick ponder - and ... I thought about childhood days, growing up in Montreal ... and how my friends and relatives and I would actually make great sport of ridiculing Toronto Maple Leaf and Argonaut fans. It was much later that I would become a citizen of the fair city (Toronto), so at that time, all I knew was what I saw on TV during those games. To our eyes and ears, Toronto fans were just ... different. And not in a good way ... again as we saw it and frankly, probably enjoyed imagining. But to this day, there remains a memory of believing then, that fans here were somewhat ... boorish, at times. (I’m just reporting here.) Of course, Montreal fans - Canadiens fans, especially - did consider their own acts of ‘fandom’ to be slightly more ‘knowing’, even (perhaps) wiser (and yes, superior) as compared to any other fan-bases ... which was little more than how we all just chose to see ourselves. (The truth might’ve been quite different, I acknowledge.) But old habits die hard and that ‘yup, we’re in Toronto’ knee-jerk comment to myself was, while unintended, coming from the background of childhood experiences ... and other experiences, as a Raptors/Blue Jays fan.

    Among those other memory-episodes (as a Raps/Jays fan) are a substantial number of occasions, when while watching from the comfort of my living room and witnessing what I considered inappropriate booing going on, I was spurred on to talk to the TV, saying (shorthand versions of) things like, “who do these yahoos think they are, booing a player because he USED to play for Toronto” (never said that about VC booing, of course) ... or “don’t these idiots realize that just because Vernon Wells makes a lot of money, he’s still made of the same stuff that we all are ... and that when his OWN F*@KING FANS are booing him while he’s walking to the plate, it’s gotta hurt; maybe even fiercely?” (Reading an article a year or two ago in which ole Vernon admitted to crying while driving to his home in Oakville from a game in which he felt he’d particularly sucked in, sort of underscored that reality for me, I suppose.) And there are other examples I could give, but you get the drift.

    The thing of it is as I see it, these athletes are people like you and me, regardless of how much money they make (once you’ve got it coming in at that rate, it does little to cushion - no, it does NOTHING to cushion - hearing venomous catcalling and hate coming from one’s own fans ... which shouldn’t be hard to imagine) and you can bet that whatever they’re doing on the court or on the field, they are doing it to the best of their abilities, at that given moment.

    Some of the comments I’ve read here on RR recently, have been in the vein of ‘well, it’s been a LOT of YEARS watching this bullshit and if they can’t take a little booing ... then fuck ‘em! We’ve suffered more than they can even KNOW!’

    Which brings me back to that ‘sense of entitlement’ that I referred to at the top.

    As fans, we see only what we see. To put it another way, when the Raptors (for instance) are playing in a fashion that seems to be sluggish and sometimes even distrustful (the opposite of ‘confident’) of their own talents and sometimes each other’s ... maybe it has more to do with the way they’re being coached and handled, on and off the court. And maybe, what we’re seeing in part, is the fear (consciously or not) of the reactions of their beloved fans. ‘Cause whatever else is going on out there, you can be certain that they’re not TRYING to play like bums.

    These athletes are young guys who, for the most part, have less worldly (street) experience than even what some of the youngest of RR posters might have. They’ve devoted their lives to the game that we watch them play; to get good enough to make the ‘big leagues’, supreme focus and dedication - each to their own degrees, of course - is necessary to develop the skills they must have to get to play among the best ... and that really goes without saying. (Or it should.)

    So, while we’re busy making our displeasure loud and clear to them, to a greater extent than most of us could know, their immediate reaction is to get confused (witness Jose’s face last week when he heard boos because he missed a shot) and later, it would be only human nature to feel resentful - and I’m guessing at that, only because it’s how I would unquestionably feel - and ... the endless cycle begins.

    I’ll tell you, if I was a pro athlete ... I’m not so sure that I’d want to play in this city. From what I’ve seen - and from what they see - we’re sometimes a bit too quick to boo our own teams and players. As if we’re ENTITLED to more than just their best efforts. And you know what? We’re really not entitled to anything but their best efforts ... and just because it appears that we’re not seeing their very best ... oftentimes (again), what we see is not necessarily all that is really going on.

    So ... maybe something to think about. (Or not, as you decide.) But it's my take on the subject.

    Cheers. And go Raps.
    Last edited by ws511; Tue Apr 13, 2010, 11:26 AM.

  • #2
    Here's my response:


    I couldn't disagree with you more.

    I get tired of this whining which makes out Raptor fans to be more apt to boo than other cities. It simply is not true. The Celtics won a ring two years ago and they remain a top NBA team. Celtic fans are thought to be some of the best, yet they have routinely booed the C's this year, including this past weekend.

    Read this report (04/10/10) before you critcize Raptor fans who have supported 15 years of bad basketball, while Celtic fans boo a 50 win team:

    Garnett Dismayed By Boo Birds

    As the Boston Celtics walked off the floor at halftime on Friday night, a decent number of fans booed them.

    When the beat down delivered by Washington was officially over by a final count of 106-96, the boo birds were even more boisterous.

    Players normally let it slide, especially when it comes on a night when they, truth be told, deserved to be booed for their play.

    Still, Kevin Garnett acknowledged that the booing from fans did bother him.

    "We are at home, we look for our fans to give energy," he said. "To give us a spark when times are tough. It doesn't help when the boos happen, but we are a group of veterans and we are a group that is a real team, we aren't fair weather."

    A big part of why fans are quicker to go into full blown boo-mode now, is because the talent assembled on this roster has consistently underachieved this season especially against weaker teams.

    Friday's loss was the 16th at home for this group. That's more home losses this season than the previous two seasons (12) combined.

    I'm sure the Celtics are tired of hearing about the success of the previous two seasons. But let's face it.

    It's that success, with a group whose core isn't all that different now, that has fueled expectations being so high.

    But when those expectations suffer a major blow like when, say you lose to the worst team (New Jersey) in the NBA at home and later lose to the second-worst team (Washington) at home in April, fans aren't going to exactly be pulling out the Green and white pom-poms doing back flips.

    They're going to respond in the only way fans know how - they are going to boo, and boo loudly.


    • #3
      I agree with you on the fact that the players are conscious of the boos and are fearful of the reactions they may get. Not necessarily the Chicago game, but the Denver, Miami, Charlotte games, it seemed they were not playing with freedom. Maybe they were so desperate to win they were to scared of failing and stopped playing with any confidence.


      • #4
        I agree that Raps fans should stop booing but not to dispel ‘a sense of entitlement’ and certainly not to spare the players’ feelings. I think channeling that energy to cheer to help them out, to be the ‘sixth man’, is the reason not to boo the home team. It’s a proven fact, in soccer anyways, that cheering the home team can improve the game in the home team’s favour! Have a look at this article, if you haven’t already:

        This season has been beyond frustrating and perhaps that’s how we’ve gotten to this point with the booing (but probably not, as your childhood memories seem to suggest). It’s fine to voice your protest by not buying tickets or not tuning in on TV. But if you’re going to the game make the ACC a fierce place to play, where opponents are afraid to play, by cheering them– even louder when they’re down. Look at it this way...cheering for them couldn’t possibly make this team any worse.


        • #5
          I wholeheartedly agree with the need to stop the quick booing. I have often thought of what would go through player's minds, and how it might be a deterrent to either staying or signing in Toronto.
          I know money is the biggest thing, but it is not the only thing.


          • #6
            WS511 - I agree with a few points in your post. I agree that fans are way to quick to boo in this city and at times (ie. Jose's missed three) are completely unaware as to when it is appropriate to boo someone. I also agree that some people get booed for the wrong reasons. For example, people boo Rios because certain media outlets *cough FAN 590*, send out a message that he was a lazy player, when really how do you seperate a lazy from non-lazy player when watching baseball, they all look lazy to me. They also love to boo the big money guy who doesn't step up (Wells).

            Where I have to disagree is the whole discussion of self entitlement. I think the fans have a right to boo their own team when they simply mail in games or long stretches of games. Stating that they look as though they don't care because they aren't coached right I think is way off base. When I watch the games the majority of the defensive issues are not guys missing rotations, or getting the schemes mixed up, its players unwilling to fight through screens, close out hard on a shooter, box out a man or out compete a guy for a loose ball. Its not difficult to seperate a player who is just completely incapable of doing something (ie. Jose stopping penetration), and a player not commiting to an assignment (the very common but under reported Chris Bosh ole gift lay-up). Not to mention we have seen numerous games this season when the team has brought that focus and energy, so they have proved they are more than capable of doing so. As fans who have to pay outrageous prices to see a game in even the crapiest of seats, I think they have absolutely every right to boo someone who is not trying. I mean, if you pay your kid $10 dollars a week to do the dishes, and day after day you find dried food particles when you pull a dish out of the cupboard, your going to be pissed and wonder "What the hell am I paying you for?"

            This fan base has supported many crappy teams without raining down a chorus of boos, because no matter how outclassed they were they played hard, and with a purpose. This current team turns it on an off when they feel like it.

            The timing of the boos may not always be justifiable, but this team has provided enough valid reasons for fans to be booing this season.


            • #7

              When people spend hundreds of dollars, time and energy on their beloved team there is ALWAYS going to be a sense of entitlement. You go to any city that cares about their team and if that team stinks to high heaven then you're going to hear booing. In the cities where you don't, go check the gate numbers and you'll have your answer. Toronto gets behind good teams and bad and that can be seen in attendance numbers. In the worsts of times in the past decade the Raptors attendance was still middle of the pack. Some times the fans miss the mark and boo something unworthy of booing but my friend don't try to tell me I can't distinguish lazy play from nervous play. Nervious play leads to mistakes but you can still see effort. Lazy play is clear as day. This city gets behind blue collar, lunch pail guys. It the player busts his ass and is true to his team he will never get booed. I can never remember the likes of Alvin Williams, Jerome Williams or Matt Bonner ever getting booed. They left it on the court and the fans could overlooked their deficiencies because of it. As for blaming the coach, well Alvin and JYD may have had the worlds most passive coach not riding them and they still put their bodies on the line every darn night. There goes that idea. I think one major problem with the Raptors right now is that Brian Colangelo's current basketball philosophy doesn't match the cities' culture. He doesn't look to bring in the kind of players the city wants to see. I think Raptors fans want to see tough, hard noised, 100% effort basketball and not soft, weak, 100% sometimes, 60% most of the time effort. Colangelo is trying to make an exciting product instead of a winning product in my mind.
              Last edited by Apollo; Tue Apr 13, 2010, 10:58 AM.


              • #8
                Its laughable reading some of these responses. Its as if we Raptor fans should coddle the Raptors regardless of how poorly they play. If the Raptors are so fragile that they can't handle booing, then what happens when LeBron or Kobe or KG drive at them?

                19,500 Toronto Raptor fans were waving flags and cheering over an hour before the Bulls game. The ACC had a playoff atmosphere thanks to the rapid Toronto fans.

                So what did the players do? They played one of the worst games of the year and showed no heart or determination!!!!

                Raptor fans are some of the most loyal and supportive in the NBA. But sometimes tough love is in order. I paid $500 last Sunday and watched a pathetic performance. The Raptors deserved the boos.

                If booing a team that plays like a bunch of pansies offends you, then I suggest you watch golf.


                • #9
                  RaptorTalk wrote: View Post
                  19,500 Toronto Raptor fans were waving flags and cheering over an hour before the Bulls game. The ACC had a playoff atmosphere thanks to the rapid Toronto fans.

                  So what did the players do? They played one of the worst games of the year and showed no heart or determination!!!!


                  • #10
                    Well said ws511.

                    In the Raptors and Maple Leafs case, at the end of the day if there's an organization or someone who should be booed its the MLSE. If fans want something to be done or changed, then hit the MLSE where it hurts (in their wallets) and don't attend games or don't buy season's tickets. But that will never change for the Maple Leafs because of the sheer history alone of the franchise is popular enough to fill the seats of the ACC 82 games a season. And the mediocrity of Toronto sports has continued and will continue to remain. The Raptors organization is much of the same mold now and we're seeing similar results. Mediocrity.

                    So if fans really want to something to be done, then don't boo at games. Make a stand and don't financially support the team by attending games, buying merchandise or anything else which the MLSE makes money. If not, then don't complain because at the end of the day the MLSE are the ones that are laughing at us because we're the suckers that tolerate this product on the ice or court year after year after year.


                    • #11
                      Quick replies:

                      RaptorTalk - a point that I tried or meant to make is that the coaching and management of the team is far more responsible for whatever it is we see on the floor that we all - and I’m definitely included, as a Raptors fan from day one - get disgruntled about ... yet it’s the players who take the brunt of the booing. If this team was well coached, we’d not be seeing the vast majority (I believe) of badly organized play that we so often see, that ends up bringing on the booooos.

                      cornbread - I agree.

                      TheLowEndFury - we’ve seen (mostly from elsewhere) how teams can get energized by the fans really getting behind them, even when they’ve been down a ton. So, ya ... I agree.

                      Rainman - yup.

                      Deadallus - the fans definitely (and obviously) have the right to boo ... but as to your analogy - and not that I’d question your parenting skills, you understand - maybe showing your kid the dried up food on the plate and explaining a bit about bacteria and the problems it can cause ... and then demonstrating a better way to wash those dishes properly, might get better results. Better than the booing, that is. Especially if followed up with the assertion that the weekly $10 is dependent on doing the job correctly. Of course, as fans, we can’t really threaten the money that the players receive, so ... that part of it doesn’t fit here ... but the rest of the analogy might. ‘Cause once again, it comes down to the coaching, handling and management of the players to see that they do their respective jobs fully, on the court. If our ‘boos’ could be directed straight to the coaches, management and owners ... I’d be all for it. In a big way. But that’s not what the players experience when they hear boos from their fans.

                      Apollo - fair enough.

                      Doc - cheers.


                      • #12
                        Dear ws511,

                        You couldn't be further from the truth.

                        I respect your opinion and longevity in explaining your thoughts. But I'll try and make use of brevity to sum up why you're 100,000% wrong about Toronto fans.

                        A) Toronto fans are extremely passionate in their relationship with Toronto sports teams. As you may know from personal relationships, if you have the capacity to love something, then you have the capability to hate it to the same extent. Hence the reason for boo-ing when a poor effort or apathetic attitude is displayed.

                        B) Montreal Canadiens fans have experienced a great wealth of success in the NHL. The Canadiens by far have the most Stanley Cups in NHL history (27 if i'm not mistaken) which has an impact on the collective psyche of the fan base. In contrast Toronto fans are absolutely desperate for a championship. They haven't won a championship in professional sports since the early 90s and prior to that - the 60s. So to compare the psyche of the two fan bases simply isn't fair. Just like it isn't fair to compare 2 individuals who have grown up with entirely different circumstances/life experiences. Their perspectives are shaped by those experiences, thus they cannot be expected to act in the same manner.

                        C) Blaming the coaching staff rather than the players (like you did) is anecdotal. You're right when you say the fans don't know the whole story behind what's causing the product on the court/rink - HOWEVER - as Michael Jordan so vividly put it in his Hall of Fame induction speech "It's the players who go out there on the court to win championships. Not the organization, not the coaches. They have something to do with it. But at the end of the day, it's the players who win or lose out there." (paraphrased)

                        So to label Toronto sports fans as "irrational" or to ridicule them, as some people on the outside looking in may do, simply verifies the brassy point that I'm about to make: Toronto fans are perhaps the best and most loyal sports fans in the North American professional sports market. Even though their beloved hockey team hasn't won a Stanley Cup in 40+ years, and their basketball team hasn't breached the mediocre 47 win mark - they stick by their side each and every season - chanting loudly (whether it be boos or hoorays) and that's the beauty of it all. Players who have played here long enough can vouch for how loud & crazy the atmosphere in the ACC is when they win big.

                        So love em or hate em, at the end of the day Toronto fans will support their sports teams. They're just extremely ambitious and so dearly tired of losing, hence all those boos.

                        - bhattmagandhi
                        Last edited by bhattmagandhi; Tue Apr 13, 2010, 12:25 PM.
                        "Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That's true about the game, and in some ways about life too." ~ Michael Jordan
                        "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy." ~ Dale Carnegie


                        • #13
                          bhattmagandhi - nicely put ... and I can’t really dispute anything you said ... but I’ll comment on a couple of points, for fun.

                          While I rarely follow any hockey at all these days, except for really big games (just a decision I made some time ago), it is true that Montreal Canadiens fans were spoiled rotten with Stanley Cups up until about a decade or so ago. And now having lived here for a long time, I’ve seen the difference that it’s made in the psyches of Leaf fans, as compared to Habs fans. So, yes ... I’ve felt great empathy for the frustrations of die-hard Leaf fans that I’ve known and loved over the years. And I’d even go as far as saying that they’re probably the greatest hockey fans in the world. Aside from Habs fans, of course. (jk)

                          As to what Michael Jordan said ... well, just because he said it, it doesn’t necessarily make it true. It’d be pretty hard to convince me that if this team didn’t have better coaching and management, we wouldn’t be seeing a better product on the floor.

                          Also, I doubt that too many out there really think of Toronto sports fans as ‘irrational’ or ‘insane’ (lol - it makes me laugh to say that) ... and really, I think, overall, those from outside our little world here (Toronto) respect in their way, the zeal that Toronto fans commonly display. Some enjoy - I suspect - kidding us ... mostly because we’re easy to kid. The way we wear it on our sleeves and all. And the ‘Canadian thing’.

                          The thing about your last comment though, re ‘tired of losing (for 40+ years), hence the boos’ ... while that’s understandable on the surface of it, the players themselves (of today) who, in some cases, just got here several months ago (and even if it was several years ago), cannot possibly relate to or understand - in any way, really - the built up, pent up angst that so many here feel because of the weight that is shouldered and carried around, because of that loooong drought of champions (excluding the ’92 and ’93 Blue Jays).

                          So ... while the booing might feel justified and nothing less than warranted for the fans themselves who are voicing their discontent, the players that directly feel the negative force of it have really had little or nothing to do with why it’s there. They only know that ... ‘I just missed a shot and these guys are booing the shit outta me’. They have no way of knowing or understanding that the history behind ‘those boos’ is a long and nasty one ... and that it has little to do with anything that he or they just did ... ‘cause it just happened to be the last thing put on top of the mountain of pain ... as it were. If that makes sense.

                          Last edited by ws511; Tue Apr 13, 2010, 01:05 PM.


                          • #14
                            Cheering and Booing go together.

                            They are the ying and yang of a fans emotions

                            Those that are against booing are probably against allowing someone to say something that they don't agree with.

                            Sounds way too controlling and Orwellian for me.
                            Avatar: Riverboat Coffee House 134 Yorkville Ave. billboard of upcoming entertainers - Circa 1960s

                            Memories some so sweet, indeed

                            Larger Photo of the avatar

                            “As a captain, I played furiously. I drew a lot of fouls, but I brought everything I had to every practice and to every game. I left everything on the court because I simply wanted the team to win”
                            Quote from well known personality who led their high school team to a state championship.


                            • #15
                              Some of you have summed up exactly how I feel about this. Teams like the Celtics, the Pistons when they were good, the Lakers, and so on and so forth have all been booed at one time or another for lazy, lackluster effortless play. Did those teams go home and cry? Hell no! They knew that fans expect 100% out of them each and every night. How is it that a team like the Utah Jazz, who always play their hearts out, could get a standing ovation when they lose? Because fans want effort.

                              And hell yes we should feel entitled. Last I checked they're not handing out all those tickets for free. We take our hard earned money to watch MILLIONAIRES play basketball, and we expect them to put some damn effort into it, not go out there and brick shot after shot, shy away from charges, take possessions off, settle for jump shots and piss games away.

                              I think fans are finally getting fed up with constant mediocrity. With constant weak-willed basketball. Whenever the team faces a little bit of adversity they run off with their tails between their legs. It's pathetic. And it's been going on for years.