Relationship Between Fans and Players/Coaches

I never really understood the point of sports ‘fans’ cursing out players, coaches and refs while a game is going on, never mind the fact that people do it on the streets as well. There’s an excellent anecdote in The Globe and Mail today about Leafs’ manager Ron Wilson and his interaction with a fan last fall while he walked the streets of downtown Toronto.

One day last fall, Ron Wilson is walking through the underground labyrinth of tunnels that connect all of the major points in the city’s downtown when his cellphone rings. On the line is Scott Gordon, his assistant coach with the U.S. Olympic hockey team, and they begin talking about issues surrounding the coming Vancouver Whistler Games.
A shortish fellow in standard business attire walks by, sees a familiar face, and does a bit of a double-take. Then he walks up to Wilson, who is still talking, and hollers the following directly into his ear.
“You’re the worst [expletive] coach I’ve ever seen. You’re a [expletive] idiot.”
Then the man in the suit walks away, leaving Wilson standing there, with Gordon laughing on the other end of the line.

It doesn’t end there. Anyone who knows the way Wilson relishes the cut and thrust, understands that he likes to get the last word, can imagine what comes next.

He sprints through the tunnel – his antagonist has a 50-metre lead, but he quickly catches up – and stops him dead in his tracks.

“You said something back there. Now say it to my face.”

His critic is momentarily taken aback, but eventually summons his courage and repeats his critique, complete with f-bombs.

“How can you do that?” Wilson says. “I could have been talking to my wife, or my granddaughter. What do you do for a living? Do people come up to you at work and swear at you?

“You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to follow you all the way home and call you an idiot.”

Wilson does just that, or at least he does until the guy finally escapes into the subway. Point made. Perhaps.

I agree with the fact that the fans (for the most part) have paid for the tickets themselves and have a right to say what they want but that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. Personally, when I am at a game and I tend to disagree with a call or a play, I’ll let my frustration known but in a general direction and never personally directed at anyone (I don’t think I’ve booed A-Rod or even Vince Carter). Just because they may be selfish jerks, isn’t enough justification in my book to go and insult them while they try to do what they are paid for. As Ron Wilson brilliantly tells in the article above, how you would react if someone came to your workplace and started yelling in disagreement every time you made the slightest mistake.

What does all that booing accomplish in the end anyways? I would think these ‘professional’ players become nearly numb to the booing or even cheering to some extent and should be able to tune that out during the course of a game or season. Certainly pressure gets to some players but that’s all mental and greatest players have no issue overcoming that. On top of that, you take these knowledgeable but ultimately very unclassy fans from all over the place, (New York or Philly generally get the most blame) where they know who the wife or children of certain ballplayers are and throw their hate, vulgarities or on the rare occasion, even physical items.

One final note, how messed up of a world do we live in where Michael Vick is still getting all this hate after serving 18 months in jail for doing what he did to animals while Ben Roethlisberger and others get away with a slap on the wrist for doing despicable things to other HUMAN BEINGS. Disgusting. You might as well give him a job with the TSA on his off days.