On booing

Full time at White Hart Lane on Sunday was marked by a blast from the referee’s whistle and an almighty blast of music over the stadium PA.

The music at full time was, they say (whoever “they” are, but “they” have Twitter accounts and it was all over bloody Twitter within seconds), an attempt to drown out the boos that exploded from the lungs of Tottenham supporters.

First and foremost, Tottenham’s effort against Stoke City was insipid. It was a throwback to late-90s Spurs. Nethercott and Vega have been replaced by Kaboul and Fazio.

So was Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor (who decided to change his boots just before we was to be substituted on – not that it did him a lot of good since the first thing he did upon taking the field was to give the ball away) right to say:

Instead of booing people, which will make it even worse, I think it is sometimes better to support them and give them what they need to perform on the pitch.

It’s not the first time in recent years that the White Hart Lane faithful have come under attack from within the club. Last season, former manager Andre Villas-Boas said: “We didn’t have the support that we should have had. There was much anxiety present in the fans which transmitted to the players.”

There is a tendency for the modern football supporter to think, “They’re being paid so much, they should be able to handle being booed.”

But footballers are human beings too, probably, and are likely to have feelings, the callous brutes.

Booing is not a new phenomenon. Moses copped a bit of stick from the crowds back in the day, and he wasn’t on £70,000 a week. Anyway, the point is that booing existed before Adebayor or any of his team-mates were even thought of, and yet the debate over whether or not fans should boo, coupled with the lack of intestinal fortitude on the players’  behalf to deal with booing, seems to be eternal.

According to the internet (which is never wrong), dynamic interactive crowd feedback can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where playwrights competed at the Festival of Dionysia in Athens to determine whose tragedy was the best. Best tragedy? Spurs would’ve kept the trophy after winning the past twenty years in a row.

Lest bitterness seeps in to this article (too late! she cried, as she waved her wooden leg), let us continue our historical jaunt. Public expressions of displeasure have existed, therefore, since ancient days. The word “boo” is a more recent phenomenon, springing to life in the 1800s and then perfected by a pair of Muppets in the 1970s.

Statler-Waldorf

Adebayor should spare a thought for opera singers – they have to put up with opera “lovers”.

Ah yes, opera “lovers”…without them, opera would be enjoyable (with the exception of the Ring Cycle).

Milan’s Famous La Scala™ has possibly the world’s most notorious opera crowd. The cheap seats – the loggione – are home to a brutal bunch of opera “lovers” who delight in booing performers off the stage. How’s that sound, Emmanuel? Spurs supporters are cream puffs by comparison.

Never boo a cheerleader, says one blog. Because their boyfriends are really, really effing big and will beat the crap out of anyone who dares to boo their belles. (Very few opera houses feature cheerleaders.)

So, should football supporters boo? Is booing a genetic defect found in Tottenham supporters?

If we consider football as entertainment – as many sports administrators would like us to, comparing the price of a day out at the game to the cost of going to the opera (as if we’d go there anyway, the opera’s full of ferals) – and we are not supporters but customers/consumers, then why not boo? We cheer, we boo, we gasp, we buy overpriced alcohol.

By that argument, it is our right – nay, our duty – to boo our team. Hang on, boo our team or boo the other team? What the hell, let’s boo the lot of ’em! And the referee too!

If we consider ourselves as supporters, then the rules become less clear-cut. How can we express our dismay (or in the case of Spurs supporters, disgust) with our team’s performance without booing and without jeopardising our status as supporters? Should we tweet about it? Post something grumpy on the club’s Official Facebook Page? Send a letter to the coach? Ring an AM radio football talkback show? Or worse still – start a blog?

(As a side note: Spurs supporters should be aware that Pochettino is fielding a team that he knows will lose so that Levy will feel compelled to buy some decent players in the coming transfer window to replace them. Booing helps Pochettino’s scheme. Truly! And burning jet fuel can’t melt steel beams!)

But the rights and wrongs of booing are just a distraction from the main point:

Tottenham Hotspur’s management showed contempt for its supporters by blasting music over the PA at the end of Sunday’s game.

Booing might be unjustifiable in some eyes, but there are days when the truth can’t be covered up. Spurs’ performance on Sunday was pathetic.

Trying to shift the blame to the supporters after the game is very poor form.

But for supporters, the only way to really show your disgust with the club is to boycott. Money talks, and it’s the only language that football speaks these days.