We must reserve the right to boo

March 15, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND


First came kiddie soccer, where everyone is a winner, and by "winner" I mean "loser," because everyone gets a trophy and children are roundly applauded for feats of athleticism that include getting their noses caught in the net.

I can live with that, because they are just kids and need to be taught the valuable lesson that in life there is no such thing as failure. I'm sure that after losing the Super Bowl, coach Lovie Smith took Rex Grossman out for pizza.

But the T-dog is more disturbed by a bill that's making its way through the Washington state legislature that would ban booing at high school athletic events. The state athletic board says that "because so many fans have become loud, obnoxious and abusive, fewer people are willing to serve as coaches and referees."


Maybe. But people who don't appreciate booing have never had to deal with any number of marginal sporting figures, and I am speaking specifically of Dale Berra.

As someone who boos for a living, you can understand my concern.

It's a slippery slope from a ban on booing basketball players to a ban on booing, for example, Del. Chris Shank. Oh sure, you can make the argument that neither of them deserves it, but we're Americans, that's what we DO.

What's next, if a pollster calls you about President Bush's job performance you are required to say "Splendid" because the law requires it?

And can you imagine if they passed this law in Philadelphia? They boo Santa Claus, for crying out loud. You haul out everyone who boos, Donovan McNabb is going to be playing in front of three people: Two Buddhists and an Amish.

Booing is American. It's the first word an infant learns, Boo doo doo wa da.

You can't take that away from us. It's in the Constitution - somewhere in the back. The right to boo shall not be infringed. If the Second Amendment means that every giggling psychopath can have a gun, the First Amendment means that it is our right, nay, our duty, to boo Mark Brunell when he throws a three-yard pass on third and five.

And what are husbands supposed to do if honey-poo fixes a bad meal? "Darling, sweetie, light of my life, I would like to boo this meatloaf, but I am prohibited by law."

And her? My goodness. "Well good morning, my lovely train-wreck of a husband, after bailing you out of prison last night I have taken the liberty of washing the drool out of your underpants and I would be more than happy to support your meth habit by selling myself to a Turkish sportsmen's club. Good show."

I kind of think we need to reserve the right to criticize.

Boo. How do they know you're saying boo and not Loouuu, as in Lou Piniella? I think it's going to be hard to enforce. Ushers will need clarification. "Excuse me sir, was that a boo or were you just ordering a Coors? A boo? Sorry, you will have to come with me.

How would you like to do five to 10 in the bighouse for a catcall rap?

And as I understand it, technically you can go full hockey-dad on a kid and call him a #&*!## and you're fine. But if you boo him, it's off to the rack.

Of course, this all comes back to the one central problem in America: Parents. True, we all need a couple, but dang. Just because your own sporting life was a failure doesn't mean that you have to take it out on some spectacled geometry student who was unfortunate enough to wind up at point guard.

My only experience with kids' sports was girls softball. I never heard anyone boo. Matter of fact, the more spectacular the failure, the louder everyone would cheer. Just not to hurt any feelings, I guess.

Of course, we all remember the "unpleasantness" with Little League baseball and ABC television a few years back. That whole "you don't get a hit, you don't eat tonight" paradigm is part of the problem, I suppose. But a law against booing?


Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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