Grant Egger and Chris Rhoades

Grant Egger and Chris Rhoades

Beaten down by the game, physically and mentally, 29-year-old Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck recently announced his retirement during the NFL preseason. Without the context as to why he was retiring, some Colts booed Luck as he left the field after the exhibition. In retrospect, they may not have jeered the QB had the reasons been known.

The situation raises a question, however. Is it appropriate for fans to boo their own team? Associate Publisher Chris Rhoades and Sports Editor Grant Egger debate.

Egger: What has a boo bird ever accomplished?

I'd like to start my argument against booing by making it clear that I'm also not too inclined to animated cheering either.

Golf claps are more my speed, but I'd never lightly boo or hiss my own team. Never.

First off, what has a boo bird ever accomplished? No one knows as much about the game they're playing or coaching than the college or professional athlete or coach. You'd probably be able to convince me otherwise with certain examples, but it'd be a short list, nonetheless.

The players and coaches probably know well before you and I that they're having a poor showing. They don't need confirmation from us dumb dumbs that, yes, that interception was bad for the team's chances of winning the game.

Secondly, no general manager or coach decided to sign or recruit better players based on their fans' game day reactions. Boos mean little if they're buying another ticket and back at next week's game, too. Silence from a shrinking crowd week to week, however, is super effective.

I also want to speak specifically to the Andrew Luck situation. It's not that rare of occurrence. Pro athletes are people going through the same things you and I are, albeit in much bigger houses with prettier spouses (don't tell my wife who doesn't exist).

As was mentioned in the introduction, Colts fans didn't know why Luck was stepping way. They hadn't realized how broken down he said he'd become. Had they known, some — not all — probably would have cheered him off of the field rather than booed him.

My point is, you never know why your team is struggling. It might be something deeper than you know. Booing may make us feel better, but they're the men and women we keep track of and follow Why would we want to make them feel even worse?

So, in summation, I'd never boo my own team just like I'd never boo Daniel Buhrman, my co-worker. It might make me feel better to let him know he sucks, but I've still got to see him tomorrow. When he does (finally) do a good job, I want to celebrate with him, not have him tell me “I told you so!” with a certain middle finger pointed in my direction.

Rhoades: In certain situations, let those boo birds sing

I’d like to first preface my argument by saying that I am referring to professional teams and athletes when I say that booing is an acceptable thing to do to your team. If you boo high school or college kids, especially on teams that you support, you need to re-evaluate yourself and your life choices. But, yes, I think that if you are investing your hard-earned money into supporting professional athletes, you have some right to voice your displeasure.

With that being said, I personally think the circumstances should be extremely limited. I mean, if you think about it, booing in your home stadium by default makes you look a little silly. Colts fans who recently booed Andrew Luck for choosing to retire (instead of risking his body and his brain turning to mush) should just find another hobby because sports just isn’t for them. That is not the time to boo.

However, professional athletes made a lot of money. And it typically costs the average family a lot of money to attend their games. So, to me, there should be an expectation that you see a certain amount of drive and effort from those athletes you are there to support.

I think many times when fans boo it’s because they see a lack of intensity and desire. I think that’s fair. All we want to see, whether we’re a parent, coach or fan, is for those we support to give their best effort. Booing because someone drops a ball or misses a shot is crazy. But, if they are getting whipped by an inferior opponent, or just going through the motions, I think we have a green light to speak up.

While it’s nothing I think should be commonplace in sports, I do think there’s a time and a place for the boo birds to come out and sing. But, if so, those athletes better be ones who are getting paid handsomely.

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