Sports Fans Have The Right To Boo

Today’s oversensitive athletes have to get over themselves.

Sorry, but that’s what you signed up for.

It’s called sports, supported and fueled by people who quite honestly – care about your team more than most of the players wearing a uniform.

It’s always been that way.

Sports has a short menu: wins and losses.

And fans usually respond the same way depending on the outcome. They cheer and scream at the top of their lungs when their team wins or they boo and cry in disappointment if they honestly believe their team didn’t play up to par and lost it.

Sorry, Charlie.

Maybe, athletes – babied more than ever before – have become more sensitive in this give-everybody-a-trophy world we live in.

But for the fan who invests time, emotion and money into their favorite team, there’s nothing wrong with a negative reaction when the game doesn’t go the way you want it.

It’s natural. It’s human.

Fan is derived from the word fanatic. And according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the world fanatic means a) a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal. Here’s a second meaning b) a person with an obsessive interest in and enthusiasm for something, especially an activity.

Enter NFL Wildcard Weekend. There were great performances and some bad ones as well.

There were great games and a heartbreaking finish. There were tears of joy and tears of pain and anguish.

And somehow, the narrative is to blast fans for not being happy their team lost. It’s ludicrous.

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ICYMI: The reigning Super Bowl champs get by the Bears after Cody Parkey’s game-winning FG attempt was tipped, hit the post AND crossbar. (via @NFL)

The Bears were in position to beat the Eagles at Soldier Field on Sunday night. With five seconds left, Bears’ kicker Cody Parkey needed to make a 43-yard field goal. It was definitely makeable. But he hit the left upright. The ball came straight down and hit the crossbar. It plopped onto the field. No good. Philly wins, 16-15.

Bears fans were crushed, angry. And most of their wrath was aimed at Parkey.

“I feel terrible,” Parkey said to the Chicago Tribune after the game. ”There’s really no answer to it. I thought I hit a good ball.”

Had Parkey made the field goal, he would have been the toast of the town. That’s how it goes.

In the long history of the NFL, many have missed big game-winning field goal attempts, including Gary Anderson, Scott Norwood and Blair Walsh, just to name a few.

Does that mean fans have a right to be vile, racist or violent? No way, no how. That stuff is out of bounds. Period.

But players are now getting mad at fans for booing, a right that comes with the price of admission.

If none of it mattered, fans wouldn’t cheer, either.

You can’t have it both ways. And yes, while TV contracts pay most of the freight these days, sports are only as big as its fan bases. The only reason leagues get those TV deals are because FANS are watching, not because of the game itself.

There’s nothing wrong with booing.Unless you’re Ravens’ cornerback Jimmy Smith, that is.

Smith took exception to a Ravens fans who booed rookie QB Lamar Jackson. With about nine minutes to go and the Ravens losing 23-3 to the Los Angeles Chargers at home, Baltimore fans voiced their displeasure loudly. At one point, fans also started chanting for Joe Flacco, the Super Bowl-winning QB who was benched for Jackson.

After the game, Smith called out the fans. “For fact that you’re a fair-weather fan that quickly, when things go rough, you turned your back on him. That just got under my skin a little bit. I went to them and told them, ‘Yo, you either ride or die or get the hell out of here.”

İsmail Sarıkaya on Twitter

Lamar Jackson…my goodness.

Really? Jackson played poorly for most of the game, but finished strong. Still, it was an “L” in a single elimination game. Fans will never be happy about that outcome.

Know your history. In Boston, fans turned on favorite Bill Buckner when that ball went through his legs in the World Series. Fans have turned on other fans, like Steve Bartman in Chicago when he intercepted a potential catch in Wrigley.

But fans have also cheered in moments you wouldn’t think like when an opponent’s player comes to his feet after an injury or to cheer a retiring great player for the opposition. YouTube Derek Jeter’s final game at Fenway. It’s touching and shows fans are truly connected to the sport they support.

The bottom line is that fans do care. That’s why they cheer and boo.

And yes, booing is OK.

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