Friday, July 13, 2012

Why I boo

At the risk of sounding totally miserable, I wanted to write a few notes about why I choose to boo some teams and athletes. I'm not sure that they're all good reasons, but I'm also not sure that they need to be.

Obnoxious Fans

Yankee fans! I have no idea where this picture is originally from...

For good or ill, this might actually be the number one factor that determines whether I come to hate a sports team. For instance, I can't stand the Yankees largely because of the fans they attract - people who think the team is entitled to a spot in the playoffs, to the best player available at the trade deadline, to the best free agents. And who pretend that the Yankees' ability to do these things with regularity is totally disconnected from political economy, and that it isn't a result of the team's absurd financial privilege. Similarly, I can't stand the teams that tend to attract fair-weather fans, even if it's really through no fault of their own. During the Euro Cup in Toronto, Italy and Portugal attracted droves of obnoxious, drunken jerks for no other reason than the 5 million bars and clubs that have moved into Little Italy and Little Portugal. But do I hold that behaviour against the teams? I sure do.


Sad Tiger. Photo from Getty Images.

When I don't particularly care about a sport, I may actually have an interest in seeing the favourite play - if I'm going to watch something that I don't follow, it makes sense to see it played at the highest-level possible. But in most cases, I like to see favourite get bounced in favour of someone that's totally unheralded and/or unexpected. (Okay, so this has just as much to do with my love for the underdog. It still holds, though.) Also? I'm a big fan of watching hubris play out on the faces of professional athletes. (See: Woods, Tiger.)

Bad Owners/Stakeholders

Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria, perhaps the most reviled man
in Montreal Expos' history. Photo by the Miami Marlins.

It's tough to like the Blue Jays when they're owned by the richest owners in baseball. And it's easy to hate teams when their owners, say, defend the use of Chief Wahoo (The Cleveland "Indians"), blame the fans for the team's lack of success (The Tampa Bay Rays), or manipulate the system and the local government in order to extract the most profit possible, with absolutely no intention of building a good team (The formerly Florida Marlins). Look: it's impossible to enjoy professional sport unless you're willing to accept that a bunch of old guys are becoming absurdly wealthy as a result. But the least we can ask is that they be honest and non-exploitative (well, less exploitative) about it, right?

Religious Right-wingers

Screen shot from C-SPAN, via Esquire.

A lot of people felt sorry for Albert Pujols when he got off to a terrible start this season. Not me. After learning that Pujols and Tony LaRussa attended a rally organized by Glenn Beck in 2010, I actually found myself hoping that his career would meet a swift end. (Of course, Pujols subsequently "explained" that he didn't know anything about the politics that were involved. Right.) Similarly, I instantly dislike anyone who insists that their performance has something to do with God's will, and isn't mostly random. (Because it is mostly random - that's why the L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup.) And I dislike these sorts of athletes especially because they apply the standard so inconsistently - if, when they win, God wanted them to win, why is it that, when they lose, God never wanted them to lose? If winning is somehow proof that God approves of them, why is it that losing isn't taken to be proof of the opposite - that if God chose to make them losers, then he just doesn't like them very much?

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