You’re packed on a crowded, sweaty rush-hour bus, going home after a long, difficult, frustrating day at work. The guy next to you is talking loudly and obnoxiously on his phone. The toddler behind you is screaming at his mother for no apparent reason. Suddenly, the driver comes over the intercom and announces that the bus will be short-turning, and everyone has to get off. You wonder weather strangling the bus driver might be considered justifiable homicide. Has this every happened to you?
Hold that thought.
Last night, after weeks out of the lineup, Andrea Bargnani was checked into the game to a chorus of boos from the crowd at the ACC. I was at the game, and I have to say it was a bit embarrassing. Bargnani’s been a perennial punching bag for people in this city over the years (and I’m as guilty as anyone) but I wasn’t about to boo him on his first day back.
In the 24 hours since Bargnani’s return, the little corner of the internet where Raptor fans hang out has been filled with debate about whether or not it was “right” for fans to boo. The Toronto Star’s Cathal Kelly had this to say:
Fans who care don’t take pleasure in booing their own players. They may occasionally lose it late in a bad game, or as a reaction to lazy play…But they don’t ambush a guy in home colours for the sin of showing up to work. They don’t take pleasure in embarrassing the team in front of the competition. Maybe this is what losing has turned this town into. We’re the dog that bites every hand. Whatever it is, it’s bad form. If the goal is to encourage the team to be better, it’s the equivalent of slapping a kid to get him to quit crying.
I completely agree with Kelly, and I hope some of the boo-birds in attendance read his article. But while I don’t agree with the booing, I understand.
Think of the poor bus driver who gets everyone’s frustration dumped on him because his supervisor called him and told him to short-turn the bus. It’s not his fault that the bus is abandoning you. It’s not his fault that you had a bad day at work. In fact, the bus driver is probably having pretty lousy day of his own.
Fans at the ACC were booing because the people who need to hear the boos are never there to receive them. They were booing because the past 5 years have been a long, sweaty, crowded bus ride. I’m not saying it was right, but I understand.
I hope Bargnani didn’t take it personally. I hope he realizes that he just happened to be a convenient target for the frustrations of people who don’t have time to express their dissatisfaction in other ways. As for the fans, I hope that if they having something to say, they’ll make sure that the right people end up under the bus.