To boo or not to boo? That IS the question.
One of the more polarizing conversations in fandom is that of how to be a true fan. Part of that discussion orbits around booing at sporting events.
I’m not talking about booing when a play doesn’t go the way you think it should. Nor am I referring to booing officials because of bad calls or for that matter, booing the “villain” players. The villains, however, are often vilified beyond reason. I’ll address a couple of those “villains” here.
Recently at a Utah Jazz game, frustration boiled over as missed shot after painful missed shot continued to add up. At a point in the game, Rodney Hood went 0-3 in a specific possession, prompting a chorus of boos from some in Vivant Arena. The chorus, although brief, shed perpetual light on the growing frustration with fans over the recent stretch of a month and a half.
The Utah Jazz are losing, and quite frequently.
When the losses start adding up, the mistakes become magnified. Take Rodney Hood. Expectations were high coming into the season. With Gordon Hayward’s departure, the baton rested squarely on Hood’s shoulders, at least from an expectation standpoint. Hey, I’m one of those guys that expected Hood to take the reins and lead the team. In fact, I’m one of those guys who’s been open about frustration that his play is less than what it should be and that he’s been short of consistent.
Did I boo last night? No. Did Rodney’s performance warrant booing? Perhaps in some fans minds it did. However, in an age of social media and greater access, I’m not exactly sure that booing and calling players out is the best course of action. Players have individual pride. They work hard on their games and put in the effort. In fact, Rodney had response to the boos:
Rodney Hood has been hearing some criticism from Jazz fans recently, including getting some sparse boos tonight at the end of the first quarter. Here's how he responded when asked about it: pic.twitter.com/mwj8wfXRvb
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) January 16, 2018
I’m not a fan of booing players that currently play on a team’s roster. I’m not a fan of booing players, period. There are players I don’t like to watch, or don’t like the way they get away with things. I just chose to vent my frustration in other avenues.
Just to be clear, players are aware of it. They recognize the frustration. They read it, hear it. Just like the response from Hood testifies to. Want more evidence? Look no further than recent player exits: Trey Lyles, Enese Kanter, and Trey Burke.
In fact, Trey Burke took to Twitter last year to go after fans even further. That one hit home, because it was directed at Jedi & Jerms. We joked about it and thanked him for the publicity, but it bodes to the point I’m making. Players see and have access to EVERYTHING. It’s one thing to boo a player who’s left and left on bad terms, like Enes Kanter or Deron Williams. But to boo a current player for his play on the court? Come on folks, we better than that!
I remember a time back when Jerry Sloan was coaching, an incident where fans booed the team for their play on the court. His response, and I’ll paraphrase because I don’t have the exact quote, was that he’d boo the team too. He suggested fans pay the price of admission to see a complete product put the effort to win games. When anything less than 100% is given or perceived as given, fans have a right to be frustrated.
Jerry was a no bones about it kind of guy. He always said it like it is, sparing no one in his idioms and statements. Jerry was old school, but I dare say even he would not appreciate a chorus of boos for players who work hard and give their all. Even if that “all” is less than effective or stellar.
The Utah Jazz were awful last night. They just were. Not just Hood, but the team. Awful.
Singling out Rodney Hood for what took place, well, is just not acceptable.
The Jazz use more consistency from Hood. That’s evident. Perhaps, though, our expectations of him are more than they should be. Perhaps we should tone it back a bit.
If we don’t we risk not only alienating him, but also his teammates. We set a precedence with nights like last night. Donovan Mitchell, the stellar rising star, sees it. You don’t think that affects him? Look no further than his response:
Tough loss tonight but we will bounce back…. Can’t believe people were booing Rodney tonight that is insane to boo a man who works his butt off everyday to become a better player and for people to boo him is INSANE He gives his all for us and we do the same for him! GOOD NIGHT!
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) January 16, 2018
Read between the lines, if we turn on Hood, what’s to keep us from turning on Mitchell when things just don’t go as expected. Players remember, not just the players we project to. Teammates remember and watch out for each other. It couldn’t possibly end well for fans or organizations. The above examples are proof enough.
Additionally players will play with that chip on their shoulder when they return or face their old team. Trey Lyles is one recent example of that. They hold grudges and aren’t afraid to unleash.
Could that be the reason Hayward left? I won’t speculate, but I’m sure he saw what was said at times about him earlier in his career. That stuff fuels players. It simply does. Players have egos, just like the rest of us. They also have pride in their game. Step on that pride, and you may just dig yourself a grave.
In short, let’s be better. Let’s not boo. Let’s not call out our own on social media. Don’t do it. Encourage and be thankful. Critique and evaluate. Show respect. If you do so, players will see it and respond in kind. If they end up on another team, they’ll respect and show love for the respect they receive. Looking at you Trevor Booker.
What’s more, we just might attract a few players to come play with the stars here and produce that winning culture we so long for.
To boo or not to boo? How about not.
Let’s all be better. It behooves us to do so.