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Boo goes the dynamite

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff September 25, 2008 09:05 AM

If you see Ellis Hobbs kicking back somewhere this weekend, give him a hug. Hope he hugs you back.

It will be the first wrap he's had on someone in a while.

Did you see that Sunday, those thousands of frauds who call themselves Patriots “fans” deserting the boys when they needed them most? Twenty-one straight regular-season victories, and this was the thanks they get, frustration from paying customers, most of whom could have taken the family on a weekend jaunt to Aruba considering what they spent on tickets, parking, concessions, and funds for the swear jar after Ronnie Brown threw a touchdown pass.

"It amazes me, amazes me, how people react,” Hobbs said after the fans dared to boo their team’s effort in a 25-point loss to the Miami Dolphins. “You would think that this organization hasn't won as much as they've won and hasn't been successful in the years that they have.”

Hey, Ellis. Keith Foulke on Line 2.

This is not about supporting venom of unnecessary worth in a society already too bogged down by anger and violent instincts. But really, why does this continue to be a hot topic of sporting discussion? Fans boo. They’ve booed for hundreds of years. Gladiators were booed. Mixed martial arts fighters are booed. Quidditch broomers will be booed one day. It is the way it always was, and the way it always will be.

So why exactly do we need to turn this into a debate over the two-faced nature of local, paying customers? Don’t they inherently have that right? To launch into some hackneyed soliloquy about the moral dilemma involved just seems silly.

Let’s play out the day, shall we, of one hypothetical Pats fan:

7 a.m. Rouses the wife and kids from their Manchester, NH home in order to hit the road for game day. Grabs the four tickets he purchased on StubHub for only $800.

8 a.m.Fills gas tank to the tune of $65.

9 a.m. Traffic on Route 1.

10 a.m. Kids are whining they have to walk a mile, but can’t pass up the $40 parking.

11:30 a.m. Decide to make way into the stadium.

Noon Standing in line at the gate, with father, mother, 14-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son, and thousands of sloshed, swearing others wearing Pats gear.

1 p.m. Standing in line at the gate, wondering if they’ll make kickoff.

1:30 p.m. Seats. Pats are down 7-0. Son wants a hot dog. Daughter wants cotton candy. Mom and Dad need a beer.

1:45 p.m. Lunch for the family, $52.35. Dolphins take a 14-3 lead.

2:20 p.m. Halftime. Patriots down 21-6. Kids need to use the bathroom. Son nearly trampled by thousands of sloshed, swearing people wearing Pats gear

3 p.m. Another beer for Mom and Dad, soda for the kids, $22.

3:30 p.m. 38-13, Dolphins. Kids want to go to Circuit City. Mom wouldn’t mind checking out Christmas Tree Shop.

5 p.m. Sitting in traffic on Route 1.

7:30 p.m. More than $1,000 later, home.

That sounds awesome. Yet we all put ourselves through some level of it for eight weeks every fall.

You can understand why Hobbs would be upset, and why some ungrateful fans should be in the crosshairs this week. All Hobbs had to do after the game was collect a check for running around the field like Scott Bakula, having just leapt into unknown territory. But the evil fans gave him something to stew about. They booed him and his teammates. The horror.

If there are indeed rules to booing, I’d say they begin and end with not booing kids. You don’t show up to a Pop Warner game and start jeering little Tommy because he muffed the kick. People do, however, and this really is where we should be discussing the morality of it all. Booing at professional sporting event? Anyone who takes umbrage with it obviously has not dealt with everything that a sports fan is asked to these days.

It’s not just about the money, but all the other oversights that come with it. Let’s take the Patriots, for instance. Sure, they deliver a superior product on the field, yet the fan experience continues to be dreadful. Remember all that infrastructure work done on Route 1 when the new Gillette Stadium was born? Was supposed to help traffic flow on the notoriously backed-up road? Worked for a nice time. Until the Krafts decided to bulldoze thousands of parking spaced in lieu of retail goodness. Now, seems we’re almost back at square one in terms of what it takes to get to a game, with all the familiar frustration.

All those headaches seem lesser when you’re watching the Patriots win, or even when you watch them lose a close, competitive game. But when you combine all that it takes in money, time commitment, and aggravation to go to a game, only to watch a lackluster effort on both sides of the ball, well, forgive me if I think the fans should be allowed to voice their displeasure in some way. At least it’s more effective than dropping off a comment card on your way out. “Check the box that most describes your satisfaction level.”

But these Patriots, heck, professional athletes in general are not used to being booed, always told of their greatness from high school to present day. It never fails, the bigger the ego gets in an athlete, the thinner the skin, as if one can not grow without the other’s demise.

That’s why Hobbs, Benjamin Watson, and anybody else emotionally affected by your desertion on Sunday needs a chin up this bye weekend. And when they’re back in a few weeks, in front of a sellout, adoring crowd at Gillette Stadium, the message is now clear: No booing. Because despite all you’ve gone through to get there, win or lose, it’s your obligation, apparently, to show an undying love for your team, no matter the effort, no matter the cost.

Remember, they’re here for you, I guess. As if they would have anything to do if you didn’t decide to show up in the first place.

22 comments so far...
  1. Interesting to contrast your empathetic view of the average fan with that of your new colleague, who has called us repressed middle-aged yahoos who wish to "preserve the sports fantasy world to justify [our] own sorry existence," and has called New England the official home of "hero worshipers and gutless suck-ups. "

    Keep up the good work.

    Posted by Harrybosch September 25, 08 10:44 AM
  1. LOL if Ellis doesn't like being booed I'll take his place. He can work my sales job and find out what real job stress is like.

    Posted by Andrew September 25, 08 11:59 AM
  1. Great article! You echoed my sentiments exactly.

    Posted by Chowdahead September 25, 08 12:11 PM
  1. Your story about the family of four who goes to a game doesn't really explain the booing, since it's the other sloshed fans in Patriots gear that were probably the ones vocalizing.

    Honestly, though, this team has been really good for a really long time. If we ask the athletes to show some appreciation for the fans, is it so much to ask for us to show some for them?

    Just like you, I'm tired of all this talk about booing that has cropped up in the last few years with journalists telling us who and when we should boo, but I have to admit, I was surprised when I heard it on Sunday.

    Posted by J-Bone September 25, 08 12:19 PM
  1. I wasn't surprised at the booing. Hell, I was booing sitting on my couch watching my $2000 HDTV that I bought to watch the Pats on. It wasn't just that they were losing. They didn't appear to even be trying. I'll boo an apparent lack of effort every time. From pros, that is. I'll cut the little tykes some slack.

    Posted by Bob September 25, 08 01:18 PM
  1. Got to agree with Bob completely. The athletes are not in it for the fans, yeah they may go to a charity event or sign some autographs, but that doesn't mean they are trying their hardest for us. They are trying hard for their next bigger, more absurd pay check. I'd gladly take 1/5th or their salary and they could sit in my cube and boo me all day. Toughen up, the pats players are a lot more spoiled then the fans. They could lose 5 close games in a row and i would not even consider booing if they laid it all on the field. But Hobbs needs to look a little harder in the mirror and ask if all the players even gave 25% of their best out there on Sunday.

    Posted by Mike J September 25, 08 02:02 PM
  1. Hobbs complaining is comical. We didn't boo him when failed to wrap up Plaxico last year when we lost in the superbowl. People spend a lot of their money in lieu of paying bills they should be paying to go to these games. The Dolphins are horrible and we made them look like an NFL team. If it was Brady or Bruschi saying something I may listen but Hobbs come on now.

    Posted by Kevin September 25, 08 02:15 PM
  1. Hobbs is a very intelligent man, so I have personal interest in what his thoughts are regarding many different topics. I'd like to ask him about the now-passed bailout plan. I imagine his knowledge or interest in that plan is about as close as his knowledge and interest of what a fan has to go through to actually watch a game live. When one team doesn't show up to play a game I paid to go see, should I not boo and just expect Ellis (and the rest of the team) to take a small pay cut to reimburse me (the customer) the cost of my ticket? Did I not receive the product I paid to see - a competitive football game? I wonder which Mr. Hobbs would prefer...

    Posted by John September 25, 08 02:48 PM
  1. I loved seeing all the middle-aged men with their 54 jerseys on leave early. Losers.

    Posted by Hojo20 September 25, 08 02:52 PM
  1. +1 for the headline E.W. and/or Editor. "Boom goes the dynamite!"

    There are appropriate times and ways to voice displeasure with your favorite sports team. When down at home by 25 to a bad division rival, and when they can't stop the same play over, and over, and over...that's an appropriate time to voice said displeasure.

    Hey Ellis, BOO! You and the rest of our Football Heroes were 10 kinds of awful last week. We'll still cheer for you next game, and next month, and next season, and next decade...just don't turn in another stinker like that one!

    Posted by Ghost of Johnny Most September 25, 08 03:57 PM
  1. Booooooooooooooooo.

    Thank you.

    Posted by Matt Caruso September 25, 08 04:52 PM
  1. Well, to be fair, you can get Pats tickets for face value now. There were over 100 tickets available on the ticket-exchange (where season ticket holders can legally re-sell their tickets for face) for the Miami game. Since this was before the blowout loss, I imagine we'll see even more tickets on sale for future games

    Posted by Trent September 25, 08 04:54 PM
  1. Amen Wilbur. Amen.

    Posted by Teilhard September 25, 08 07:20 PM
  1. Watching those fans boo and head for the exits early was pathetic and made us look like the most spoiled, idiotic fans in the NFL. It's not like that loss meant the end of the world — we're still over .500 and it's still September. Get a grip.

    And, as a season ticketholder who DID stay for the whole game — if you're peeved about spending a lot of money to go to a game to maybe see a loss for the first time in two years (!!!), then next time just stay home. Maybe some real fans will finally be able to get tickets.

    It seems the memory of us as a terrible team for upwards of 20 straight years has already been forgotten. So they finally laid an egg after about 5 years of near perfect football. Give them a break. They didn't deserve that treatment.

    Posted by Marc from RI September 25, 08 08:21 PM
  1. These fools need to be educated on what a boo represents. It's a verbal warning from the fans. Kind of like that low growl a cat gets when you rub it the wrong way.
    As fans, we are not your loyal subjects - we are your judge and jury. If we think you are mailing it in, or that perhaps you may have packed it in for the afternoon in the 3rd quarter, you will hear about it in the form of boos. When you do what you are paid to do, which is to let us live vicariously through the full application of your athletic ability, you will receive the accolades you crave. If you don't like it Mr. Hobbs, I hear Burger King is hiring.

    Posted by King Leonides September 26, 08 11:31 AM
  1. I was saying booo-urns

    Seriously, though, the people telling the players to toughen up, maybe you should take your own advice. When you buy the tickets and the TV's (that's laughable that you're blaming that on the Pats), there's no guarantee that they're going to be good. You take a risk by sinking your money into that. Maybe, because for 7 years now, that risk hasn't been there, we're all spoiled. That's their first really terrible game in a long time and that's all it took for the fans to turn on them. It was embarrassing as a fan, but predictable in this region.

    Posted by J-Bone September 26, 08 01:27 PM
  1. Excellent account of what me and 9 others go through every home game every year. Not many know what these games cost and that they have the nerve to charge us full price for mandatory pre-season tickets! It costs us thousands a year per seat. And Hobbs can cry me a bucket that was a pathetic defensive showing. They looked like they were running around like chickens with their heads cut off! I went over to Davios at half time on my way home. Great drinks!

    Posted by Phil September 26, 08 01:43 PM
  1. Ooops, I was fooled again into thinking that since your commentary was on the Globe's Red Sox page, it would be about the Red sox. Please, there are many of us Red Sox fans who don't care at all about the Patriots. Is the Globe technology too primitive to keep your Patriots commentary on the Patriot page?

    Posted by Pete Runnels September 26, 08 02:32 PM
  1. I'm willing to cut Hobbs a little slack for those comments, since he was perhaps the only player to do something positive in that game. Not saying he's right, but I can understand where he might be coming from.

    That said, it's completely hypocritical for any member of this Patriots team, which for years has stressed the importance of playing one game at a time and not resting on their laurels, to now expect the fans to cut them some slack based on their past performance. Yes, they've won a lot of games, and we've cheered them through every one of them. But the game we saw last Sunday was an embarrassment, and the fans responded accordingly.

    Posted by Kacy September 26, 08 07:13 PM
  1. People like to talk about New England fans being spoiled, but you only need to read what Hobbs said to realize it is players like him who are spoiled. What has Hobbs done to win a super bowl? He's a career back-up.

    If I were a player, I'd like to think I would prefer playing in a town like Philly, where they boo you when you stink and love you when you're great. Fans who clap for their team like trained monkeys, regardless of what happens on the field, are dull.

    Posted by owenz September 28, 08 02:05 PM
  1. Really, Owenz? You'd want to play in front of a crowd that booed the reighning NL MVP and his team that went ahead and won the division?

    I'm not saying clap for the team like trained monkeys, but perhaps show a little support in the team's very first tough moment in seven years.

    Posted by J-Bone September 29, 08 12:36 PM
  1. Great article...The reason people are booing is for the effort of the team. They forget that we are now paying the highest prices for football tickets. The fan experience begins and ends with traffic jams....We as fans are paying top dollar for a mediocre stadium at best.....Patriot Place translates into a mile walk to the stadium only to wait in a sea of people to be patted down and moved along like prisoners.....over crowded bathrooms and concourse thanks to the greed of the Bob Krafty and Jon Jon....(Standing room only tickets)....The Krafty's have taken the fans for granted again and exploited our loyalty for greed and profit......

    Posted by Patsman October 2, 08 06:30 PM
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