It is never OK to boo your team

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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104 Have your say

    Over the last 20 years, supporting my various teams has definitely given rise to some grim times.

    Despite trying to suppress them, each embarrassing loss remains unforgettable.

    If I simply scrape the surface of my memory, I can remember each one vividly – where I was, what I was doing and how I was feeling. Whenever I think about these games I have a sick feeling in my stomach.

    Games like the grand final qualifier in 1998, when the Parramatta Eels led the Canterbury Bulldogs 18-2 with ten minutes to go, looking all but set to qualify for the club’s first grand final in 12 years.

    What followed were some of the most traumatic minutes of my young life, involving Craig Polla-Mounter and Daryl Halligan.

    Parramatta lost that game 32-20 and I still am yet to recover. In fact, mention that game to any Parramatta fan and watch their face turn white and their eyes widen in horror.

    I’ve got plenty more where that came from.

    What about the Eels losing the 2001 grand final to the Newcastle Knights by 30-24, despite being the best team all year and breaking almost every record there was to break in rugby league history?

    Or 2005, when Parra lost to the North Queensland Cowboys in the grand final qualifier by 29-0 despite, again, being the best team that year and being favourites heading into that game. Afterwards, I locked myself in my room for a week and listened to Fix You by Coldplay on repeat.

    Traumatised. Devastated. Sick. Melancholy. That’s how I remember feeling after each one of those losses.

    But no matter how grim the situation, there’s one thing I have never, ever done – boo my football team.

    I’ve booed the opposition. I’ve booed particular players on opposing teams. I might have even booed a refereeing decision at one point, but booing my team is something with which I fundamentally disagree.

    On Sunday I travelled the almost two hours from Sydney to Newcastle to watch the Knights take on the Wests Tigers. This was the first time in 18 months that the Knights went into a game as favourites and, after their performance against the St George Illawarra Dragons last weekend, I was expecting a win for the red and blue.

    But the Knights didn’t even come close to a win – in fact, at the end of the first half they were 20-nil down.

    Newcastle Knights players Trent Hodkinson and Daniel Saifiti

    Photo: Joe Frost

    It’s devastating to think that even though the Knights were playing one of the lowest-ranked teams on the ladder, and despite how much the team has improved this year, they still faced such a margin at halftime and were so far off the mark.

    Despite a first 40 which was characterised by silly mistakes, plenty of dropped ball and a lack of creativity in attack, I was certainly surprised when the siren went and the Knights players walked towards the sheds with their heads down.

    I was surprised because I noticed that a couple (and I mean a couple) of Newcastle fans stood on their seats and booed their team off the field – yelling things like “You should be embarrassed”, “Don’t bother coming out for the second half” and, what they thought was straight to the point – “You stink”.

    I am certainly not tarring all Knights fans with the same brush. In fact, I respect Newcastle fans almost more than any other fan-base in the competition, because more than any other in recent times they really have stayed true.

    It speaks volumes about how passionate Newcastle fans are about their team that, even though their team has only won three games in almost two years, 19,531 people turned up on Sunday. These are the sorts of crowds that some of the Sydney clubs dream about and it is truly a testament to the commitment Novocastrians have to their footy team.

    If any team has earnt the right to boo their football team, it’s Knights fans.

    But no fan ever earns this right.

    As a fan, I see my job as to support my team almost unconditionally. The men that take the field spend hours training every single week. They put their bodies on the line. At any point, they are one tackle away from serious injury. In my heart of hearts, I believe that these men take the field each week wanting to win.

    Sometimes it may not look that way. It may look like they have a poor attitude, or they haven’t turned up. It’s those weeks that the players need the fans more than ever.

    What does booing achieve? Some people say it shows passion. Some people say it motivates the players. Some think that just because they pay money to watch a football game that it gives them the right to do and say whatever they like.

    But yelling abuse and booing players after a poor performance could not possibly make them feel any worse than they already do.

    As a fan, my job is to lift the spirits of my players and those around me – I do that by cheering. Or by staying silent when others may resort to booing.

    You can boo bad sportsmanship. You can boo foul play. But don’t ever try to convince me that it is OK to boo your football team – no matter how grim the circumstances.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (104)

    • July 4th 2017 @ 7:09am
      Rossy said | July 4th 2017 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Respectfully Mary, if you pay your money and go to the game you can gesticulate however you wish as long as you aren’t racially (or otherwise) vilifying someone.

      • Columnist

        July 4th 2017 @ 8:36am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        Hi Rossy

        I knew people would disagree with me on this one and that is completely ok.

        Perhaps the reason I hate booing so much is because when I do something poorly/put in a disappointing performance the person that is hardest on me, is me. If people around me start digging in that makes me feel so much worse (and often makes me perform worst next time).

        • July 4th 2017 @ 9:42am
          Andy og said | July 4th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

          Sometimes booing and showing discontent is positive. Fans have a right to be heard and often being members of the club they have a right to show there disapproval.At the end of clubs and leagues for that matter are beholden to the fans.If I think these highly trained professionals are letting down then I’ll let them know. How do you improve if you don’t.have legitimate feedback.

          • Columnist

            July 4th 2017 @ 10:41am
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

            I would rather give legitimate feedback than booing. If you boo from the stands are you booing every single member of the team – what about the one player that is giving it everything?

            • Roar Rookie

              July 4th 2017 @ 1:20pm
              William Dalton Davis said | July 4th 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

              I don’t boo my team though I do mumble things under my breath with the odd syllable or two reaching a little higher than a mumble if things are bad enough.

              • Columnist

                July 4th 2017 @ 1:51pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

                I perhaps have also been guilty of some mumbling…

            • July 4th 2017 @ 6:23pm
              Andy og said | July 4th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

              And how does the average fan get to.deliver that feedback Mary and who listens to a single.squeak,that’s why a collective roar is needed. Properly used the boo can be the catalyst for change

              • Columnist

                July 4th 2017 @ 7:28pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

                Andy og, I fundamentally believe there are plenty of ways for the average fan to deliver feedback that don’t involve booing.

        • July 4th 2017 @ 5:51pm
          terrence said | July 4th 2017 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

          Hi Mary,

          You must have got writer’s cramp doing exams on those old ABCD forms after having to colour in all those circles filling out your last name on the front page.

          Did you ever find an answer sheet that didn’t fully cover your name?

          PS. You can boo your team at half time at home if they haven’t put in. Ask dragon fans (not that it always works, but gee it does on a regular basis).

          PSS. Are you married? Have you thought of becoming Ms Mary Konstantopoulus-McQuewick and having kids with hyphenated last names and really long first names for them?

          • Columnist

            July 4th 2017 @ 7:31pm
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

            Hello terrence!

            Yes indeed, those forms were a real pain in the backside. My last name fit… just but with my middle name (Elizabeth) it became that much trickier.

            P.P.S No not married. But if I ever do get married, I am keeping the last name!

      • July 4th 2017 @ 2:59pm
        mushi said | July 4th 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

        In a way yes you can carry on as you wish.

        Just as a player has no obligaiton to “put in” more than legally required and no oblgiation to show “loyalty” to the club.

    • July 4th 2017 @ 7:11am
      Busty McCracken said | July 4th 2017 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      While i have never personally booed my team i did reguarly stand on the hill during the tough years as a sea eagle supporter late 90’s early 2000’s and can sympathise at how frustrating supporting a team that capiluates can be.

      I mean the fans of the knights that show up each fortnight to witness their team get regularly beaten deserve massive amounts of praise. These are the true supporters that stand by their team during the lean years. Going into that game against the tigers they for the first time in a long time had optimism that they could be a very good chance.

      To buckle under the pressure, play silly footy and go into the break 20 down would have been heartbreaking for the fans and they paid their money to voice that heartbreak to the players who they felt weren’t having a proper go.

      Not saying its a nice thing to do but can understand the reasoning.

      • Columnist

        July 4th 2017 @ 8:37am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        Busty, I like your reasoning and I hope I made it clear in my article just how much respect I have for Newcastle Knights fans… as I said if any supporter base has earnt the right to boo – it is theirs.

    • Roar Guru

      July 4th 2017 @ 7:47am
      Con Scortis said | July 4th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      I would never boo my Rabbitohs, but my top 5 people / things that are boo-worthy:

      1. Nick Kyrios (because he’s such a massive tool)
      2. George Lucas (because of those dreadful prequels which shall never be forgiven)
      3. People who don’t like dogs (because how can you not like dogs?)
      4. People who don’t indicate when they’re driving (because that’s really annoying)
      5. Coldplay (ha-ha only kidding Mary)
      5. The Roosters (just because they’re the Roosters)

      • Columnist

        July 4th 2017 @ 8:37am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        OMG. What about people who don’t give thank you waves. Can we boo them as well?

      • July 4th 2017 @ 8:49am
        E-Meter said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        Dogs………Booooooo. Except for those ones that actually make themselves useful. For eg. guide dogs, police dogs, customs dogs, farm dogs that corral livestock.

      • Roar Guru

        July 4th 2017 @ 9:52am
        BigJ said | July 4th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        Con, I dont like the dogs, so am I to be booed????

        Mary, these blokes are well and in most cases overpaid pro players. If the normal person puts in a bad performance at work you dont het booed you get sacked. People pay good money to go to games so they can boo all they like. Just as long as no violence occurs (such as dogs fans throughing stuff on the field) its fine. Plus if booing effects these guys then they need to harden up and stop be such a nancy boy. I got booed everytime id play for my footy team and not just be the opposition by my own teams supporters. Never bothered me, didnt anyone teach these blokes about stick and stones when they were kids. ???

        • Roar Guru

          July 4th 2017 @ 10:15am
          The Barry said | July 4th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          You got booed EVERY TIME you played, by opposition fans and your own teams supporters?

          Every time? By both sets of supporters?

          Not even I could have guessed you were that universally disliked by people that actually know you.

          What would have bothered you? If they actually did throw sticks and stones?

          That’s amazing.

          • Roar Guru

            July 4th 2017 @ 10:57am
            BigJ said | July 4th 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

            Did not care, i just hit and opposition harder and show boated more when i won the game for my lot. I was a tremendous show off back then and did not care who i upset. No one threw anything so you dont take notice of the crowd anyway i was too busy playing footy.

            • Roar Guru

              July 4th 2017 @ 11:33am
              The Barry said | July 4th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

              But why did your own fans boo you EVERY game if you were winning games for them?

              A bit of showboating doesn’t account for that.

              They must have hated your guts.

              • July 4th 2017 @ 11:40am
                Big Daddy said | July 4th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

                You got it right.

              • Roar Guru

                July 4th 2017 @ 12:03pm
                The Barry said | July 4th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

                That’s amazing.

                When I played footy I made lifelong friendships. I think most people would say the same.

                But you were universally hated to the point you’d get booed.

                Makes you think…

              • Roar Guru

                July 4th 2017 @ 1:05pm
                BigJ said | July 4th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                Most of the time, but as a younger man i went out of my way not to be liked. So again, it did bother me i actually thrived on it.

              • Roar Guru

                July 4th 2017 @ 3:48pm
                The Barry said | July 4th 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

                Don’t you do that now?

                Hated by the opposition I can understand, but by your own team mates…? Wow.

              • Roar Guru

                July 4th 2017 @ 4:29pm
                BigJ said | July 4th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

                Team supporters, never i said team mates, you assume too much. Although when i made my rep teams i was not the most popular guy in the team

        • Columnist

          July 4th 2017 @ 10:43am
          Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

          Disagree with the overpaid point.

          Also disagree that it somehow makes you a ‘weaker’ human if it upsets you to be booed.

          • Roar Guru

            July 4th 2017 @ 10:59am
            BigJ said | July 4th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

            Why should being booed bother you??? At the end of the day they are being paid more than me so who is the real winner???

            • Columnist

              July 4th 2017 @ 11:14am
              Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

              So unless something happens directly to me, I can’t have an opinion on it?

              I don’t really understand what the payment point has to do with anything either. So because they are being paid well, it’s ok to boo them?

              • Roar Guru

                July 4th 2017 @ 1:13pm
                BigJ said | July 4th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                Mary as always you articles are a great read, an your opinion valved. But booing is apart of sport. Do we live in a society where no negativity is allowed?? How is not being able to express your opinion not allowed, and its only booing. If that is the worst thing that happens at a game then everybody has had a pretty good day. And as for the payment comment. How can you get upset at a little booing when you making 100,000 plus a year. Hey i would let people boo me all day for that kind of cash. Hell they did it to me for free at North Rocky.

              • July 4th 2017 @ 5:16pm
                Ozinsa said | July 4th 2017 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

                Hi Mary, until reading the comments I would have said I totally agree with your argument and specifically that money has no bearing on that decision but I too recall the Tahs abject performance against the Cheetahs that day and, whilst I wouldn’t boo myself, I respect the right of others to do so. If I was at Rat Park however (this is where the money consideration comes in) I wouldn’t accept booing of Warringah players under any circumstances. The ref and the opposition sure but not my team

              • Columnist

                July 4th 2017 @ 7:32pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

                How bad was that Waratahs game?!!

    • Roar Guru

      July 4th 2017 @ 8:16am
      Will Sinclair said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      Unfortunately, I disagree Mary.

      I think you have absolutely every right to boo players when they are not putting in – when they are just showing up, collecting their pay cheque and not showing your club or the jumper any respect. Those players absolutely deserve your derision and abuse, and booing them is absolutely acceptable.

      In lieu of a name for such a situation… let’s call it… The Adam Blair Syndrome.

      • Columnist

        July 4th 2017 @ 8:42am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        Will, I’m trying to think of players that fall into this category and am struggling a bit… Do you think the Knights players fall into this category?

        • Roar Guru

          July 4th 2017 @ 8:50am
          Will Sinclair said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

          No, not at all. I think they all put in 100% but are just out of their depth at the moment.

          But I have certainly seen plenty of players disrespecting the jersey over the years. Mark Geyer himself openly admits that he didn’t put in any effort when he was at Balmain. He feels quite guilty about it now.

          And, of course, Adam Blair spent three seasons at the Tigers collecting a massive pay cheque and doing very little for it.

          • Columnist

            July 4th 2017 @ 9:06am
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

            I think in that situation Will, I could probably write something about it.

            But I can certainly see how some people would express their drustration through booing…

            • Roar Guru

              July 4th 2017 @ 11:26am
              Will Sinclair said | July 4th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

              Waratahs fans once famously booed their team off the park (following a defeat to the Cheetahs from South Africa, I think).

              It had nothing to do with the result, but the team had shown absolutely zero in the way of passion or urgency or desire. Even with the game on the line, they were walking to line outs and taking their time setting scrums.

              It was pretty obvious the team simply didn’t care, and couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort required. They thought they had a God-given right to wear the jersey.

              They fully deserved the booing. If they had played their guts out and still been beaten, then there wouldn’t have been a problem.

              Anyway, it had the desired effect. The coaching staff was changed, several players were tapped on the shoulder, and the Tahs went on to win their first ever Super Rugby title (in glorious fashion) just a season or two later.

              If the fans and members hadn’t show their displeasure that night… would anything have changed?

              • Roar Guru

                July 4th 2017 @ 11:38am
                The Barry said | July 4th 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

                Hey Will – if it’s the game I’m thinking of I was at that Waratahs v Cheetahs game. I think at the time it had some record as being the longest rugby game because of how many stoppages there were.

                It was dire.

                Barely watched the second half just sat there chatting and drinking with mates.

                Worst sporting event I’ve ever attended.

              • July 4th 2017 @ 3:41pm
                Brian said | July 4th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

                Will – I was at this game too, and this was the first thing that came to mind as I read this article. Interesting that his has been seared into all of our memories.

                I think this can really be split into two groups.

                The first is when the team is genuinely trying their best but for a variety of reasons just can’t get the job done (talking about over one or more seasons more so than single game). Is booing in this situation helpful or deserved? Probably not.

                The second is when there is a perceived lack of effort (like the above mentioned Waratah’s game). Is booing acceptable here? Absolutely. Is it fair on all the players at all times? Probably not, no. Unfortunately that comes with the territory when you are a professional athlete. I have absolutely no problem with the amount of money being made by these guys, but they have to take the good with the bad.

                At the end of the day, however, spectators don’t owe the club / team / individual anything and if they really want to boo, that’s there prerogative. As long as it doesn’t turn to abuse / racial vilification I think it’s fair game really.

          • July 4th 2017 @ 10:13am
            Andy og said | July 4th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

            Even though you feel you are giving 100% you never really are.So many things can effect performance, from subtleties to the obvious. How can supporters of teams like Parramatta give unequivocal support when it’s obvious that management was a joke. This impacts on the players no matter what they.say. You can’t tell me all those boys in Newcastle are running on all cylinders, if they.were the results would reflect that

      • Roar Rookie

        July 6th 2017 @ 9:05pm
        Bunney said | July 6th 2017 @ 9:05pm | ! Report

        I thought you were going to call it the Mitchell Moses Syndrome for certain!!

    • July 4th 2017 @ 8:33am
      kk said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      Mary, until I matured at around sixty I enjoyed the occasional full blooded “BOO”

      Whilst there was never any venom in the act, I must admit to feeling guilty and a
      little bit stupid. Think of it as a vote by voices…better than brawling.

      In the true tradition of Rugby League what was aired vocally at the arena stayed
      at the arena. We are so lucky to be Aussies.

      • Columnist

        July 4th 2017 @ 8:41am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

        MAX, this was gold. Does it take all men until age 60 to mature!! Haha.

        • July 4th 2017 @ 8:49am
          kk said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

          Yes! We enjoy being a boys.

          • Roar Guru

            July 4th 2017 @ 9:53am
            Nat said | July 4th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

            Men grow old long before we grow up

            • Roar Guru

              July 4th 2017 @ 1:35pm
              BigJ said | July 4th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

              Sad but true

    • July 4th 2017 @ 8:48am
      Michael cain said | July 4th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      In a world where sport is now a form of entertainment- sadly people will vent if they’re not getting bang for their buck.
      If your favourite singer performed on stage and has a shocker people quite rightly demand ( probably not get) a refund.
      Knights fans could probably pay off their mortgages if that was granted to them.

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