Booing isn’t pleasant, but we should accept it as part of the game


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It’s a good point. And it always stayed with me.

But after many robust discussions with passionate footy fans over the years I’ve learned that booing is part of the game. Every team’s supporters boo. All of them. They always have and they always will.

That’s why it’s just a little hard to cop the current outrage.

During the 2013 season at the height of the Essendon supplement saga, Essendon was booed on an almost weekly basis. They had not been found guilty of anything at the time, but each week sections of fans from opposition teams chose to boo.

Yet, few in the football world seemed to take umbrage at the fact Essendon players, who were innocent at the time, were booed.

You might argue that given the Essendon supplements saga was a blight on the game the booing was fair game, but then how do you explain the booing of Sydney’s Indigenous superstar Adam Goodes, which went on for weeks before the AFL voiced their disapproval?

At the time I argued the booing had racist overtones to it and should stop. But those who booed passionately claimed they believed Goodes staged for free kicks and it had nothing to do with his race. They vehemently argued it was their right to boo and took offence at others telling them to stop.

And what about the booing of Geelong’s Gary Ablett during last week’s Easter Monday match against Hawthorn? Was that shameful too?

The fact of the matter is booing is part of the emotion of the game – it’s more often than not the result of angry crowds protesting trivial matters such as a free kick, a fifty-metre penalty, a player who left their club to play for another or simply the fact a team lost.

And, getting precious about it just might do more harm than good. If you continue to strip away the unique emotion of the game you will be left with nothing but a sterile, contrived, cautious, fake product.

Sport is not universally positive and nor should it be. Just like any form of entertainment there’s a mix of emotions bubbling away. It’s raw and often unfiltered. Some of it’s positive and some of it’s not.

But if you want something that’s absolutely cheerful, respectful, polite, wholesome and happy go and do something else, because that’s not what sport is.

Sam Duncan is a regular columnist and a lecturer in sports media and marketing.

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