I have written a little about this subject before, but it’s been spread out all over the internets in various comment threads and emails. You can consider this post, The Official TWC Proclamation on Booing.
I heart booing. Booing might be the single most interesting revelation I have had as a passionate sports fan these last few months. Everything in my background and in my personality suggests that I should believe that booing is “mean”. When I thought about this weekend I thought, “I hope we don’t boo Danny,” but once the game had started, and I heard the boos, it really didn’t bother me. I have been consistently amused by booing this season, and last night’s game against the Flyers was no exception.
In my opinion, booing is just not that big a deal. I harbor no ill will towards Briere. I don’t think we will ever really know how much he did or did not want to stay in Buffalo, because the Sabres organization never negotiated with him. I don’t blame him at all for signing his big contract. People like to argue that booing is about lack of “class” or “vindictiveness” or “anger”. Having recently been a part of two booing crowds at HSBC arena (one of which was booing the Sabres), I don’t sense genuine anger from booing. Booing is just one gesture on the spectrum of expression available to a spectator, and it’s not necessarily abusive.
Like it or not, booing also fosters a sense of camaraderie among the fans. Booing isn’t for the guys on the ice, it’s for the people in the stands. Last night, it was more important to the crowd to assert themselves as Sabres fans, than it was to be “classy”. I’m fine with that. It’s an awkward thing, watching a former Sabre on the ice. We loved Danny, and many still do, but last night the people in HSBC wanted it known that they love the Sabres more than any one player. I don’t think it was about anger towards Briere. I think it was about passion for the team. You can say what you want about the people of Buffalo, but our passion for sports is beyond dispute. Daniel Briere still inspires passion. I assume that someday he won’t be such an emotional figure for the people of Buffalo, and when that day comes, we’ll stop booing him, but for right now, it’s impossible to ignore him out there. If we can’t cheer for Danny, we have to boo. That’s just how it is. Until someone invents a noise that is easily identifiable as “I respect you, and I wish the Sabres had resigned you, but you’re a bit of a slag-faced whore for becoming a FLYER, thanks for all the memories, good luck in the future, I hope the Flyers never win again”, our hands are a little tied. Our feelings about Briere are pretty complex, and a crowd is a blunt instrument when it comes to expression. I would definitely argue that the passion of the fans contributed to the high level of passion on the ice last night. Like it or hate it, the booing made the fans an active participant in the game, and it made the game more exciting.
Listen, I actually respect Briere enough to trust that he isn’t going to cry himself to sleep over being booed. For goodness sakes, it’s a sound. It’s not like the crowd was tossing molotov cocktails onto the ice. He’s making a buttload of money, and he’s a professional. I wish him nothing but the best. BOOOOOOOOO!