On Wednesday, a not-very-good-yet Washington Wizards team traveled to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers on the second night of Washington’s back-to-back. The Wiz somehow went up by 27 points in the first half against a Cavs team they were supposed to be fighting for a lower rung playoff seed in 2013-14, and Cleveland fans let their team have it with a chorus of boos. On the respective backs of Kyrie Irving’s quick scoring and rookie swingman Matthew Dellavedova’s all-around play, the Cavs came back to make a game of it, but by the time rookie Anthony Bennett made his lone appearance in the fourth quarter, the Cavs fans were itching to have a go at the struggling top overall pick.
The discontent remained, reappeared for many of the Cavaliers' 16 turnovers, and returned with gusto in the fourth quarter when 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett let sail a 3-pointer that missed everything – and dashed momentum after a 9-2 Cleveland run.
SB Nation’s Tom Ziller, a Sacramento Kings fan who would give up several limbs to have Cleveland’s LeBron James-led 2006-2010 run and two subsequent top overall picks in his favorite franchise’s history, had this to say in reaction:
They booed a rookie three weeks into his career. They booed a No. 1 pick who has seen his debut month go horribly wrong via very ugly growing pains. The kid is 20 years old, a professional for the first time in his life and totally new to Cleveland. And they booed him for missing a three-pointer. Like he meant to miss it.
Chris Fedor at Northwest Ohio Media Group detailed some of the dumber reactions to Bennett’s continued struggles from Twitter, and it’s enough to make you want to log off of Twitter dot com forever, including one super tough guy (without his real name on his Twitter handle, of course) telling his 3,468 followers that he’s not going to “baby” the struggling top overall pick. Bennett is 5-37 on the season, and I’m sure the tough love from the crowd is sure to turn his season right around. Because there’s so much sporting history of that.
It’s all pretty daft and pointless. And worse? In 2013, it’s a pretty outmoded device. Because here’s the issue: You have different options, now, fans.
For years, the only (legal) way to show displeasure with a player and/or team would be to boo them in person. Outside of the rare times one of a major city’s 42-different local papers printed a letter to the editor from a disgruntled sports fan, that’s all you had on record. Later, sports talk radio gave fans another outlet, but options were severely limited until the Internet Age hit. First, you had Usenet groups. Then message boards. Then entire blogs devoted to a team. Then came the chance to comment on all manner of sports columns, regardless of the content or source. Then Facebook and Twitter.
This is to say – you guys have options. Maybe do something constructive with them? Put your full name on things? Step out from the behind coward’s cloak of anonymity?
Look at this website. SaveOurBucks.com details at length the many reasons why the Milwaukee Bucks have remained a disappointingly mediocre team through the years, but it also details possible solutions, while crediting the team owner for going out of his way to keep the team in Milwaukee. It offers cogent solutions, it’s nuanced, it’s clearly well-researched and intelligent, but it’s also as passionate and frustrated as a high volume “boo.”
And that’s aimed at a franchise, full of well-meaning professional executives, coaches and players. You may not agree with some of their decisions, but the Bucks can handle it. Even while being told that they’re the reason the team needs saving.
Anthony Bennett? He’s a 20-year old kid coming off of shoulder surgery, playing out of a position in a new league for a team that appears to have no clue what it’s doing on either end of the court. Why anyone would think booing is an appropriate response to his ongoing struggles is beyond me.
And in 2013? Why anyone would think that booing is the right move in the face of yet another potentially disastrous Cleveland Cavaliers season boggles my mind. You have a voice that can actually do some good. Put your byline and contact information on it, and try to make a difference. Teams listen to that stuff far more than they do a few boos.
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