Friday, October 10, 2008

An open letter to Jordan-Hare Boo Birds in nine parts

Busy day here at the JCCW: there's a Works post here and a Hog Q&A here, and the Friday preview will be along shortly.

Photo courtesy of Matt.

Dear Jordan-Hare Boo Birds:

1. Hi. My name is Jerry Hinnen. I am a lifelong Auburn football fan who runs an Auburn blog called the Joe Cribbs Car Wash, and I am writing to ask you to please, please not boo our football team during their game against Arkansas. It is my personal belief that those "fans" who boo should have their season tickets given away to orphans and their Auburn gear burned in a giant furnace to keep the season-ticket holding orphans warm, but as this is not realistic I must simply ask you to hold your tongue if--or more likely when--our Tigers struggle on Saturday.

This is why:

2. First: when you boo, do you realize with whom you're associating? If you watched the Rutgers-Fresno St. or Rutgers-North Carolina games ESPN televised earlier this season, you heard the avalanche of boos directed at the home team. You know that Scarlet Knight supporters are one group already well along the path you're now dragging Auburn down--the same path trod by fans who last year, if you've forgotten, booed and chanted "F U" at the players of the Naval Academy, our country's future soldiers. They cheered when a Navy player walked off injured. The game was being played, incidentally, the weekend of 9/11, mind you.

If you've forgotten that, though, surely you can recall the most handy examplar of booing available to Auburn fans: Tide fans, of course, who you should know take their right to boo so seriously they resent being told by their AD not to boo a team that spent the previous weekend fleeing a hurricane.

Alabama fans and New Jersey gutter trash: this, boo birds, is the company you would have Auburn keep.

3. This is a picture of Iowa's players after defeating Iowa St. for the CyHawk trophy:

This would not be unusual if the game had been played at Iowa St. and the Hawkeyes were pretending to silence the opposing crowd. But this game was played at Iowa. The fans Iowa's players were silencing were Iowa's.

If the potential for continued booing to drive Auburn's players to one day play not for the Jordan-Hare "faithful" but to spite them doesn't sadden you all the way to your burnt orange-and-navy blue bones, I dare suggest your bones are of a different color. Green, probably, since apparently you value the "entertainment" provided by your ticket dollars more than you value the actual team you're paying to watch.

4. Many of you would argue that having purchased said ticket gives you a "right" to boo. Allow me to quote one eloquent response to that argument, written by a Michigan fan who has seen his team struggle offensively much the same way Auburn's has:
I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but if you booed the team you're an asshat. You wear asses for hats. Yes, you may have the purchased the right to boo your asshat-wearing heads off, but you are also taking your frustration out on a team that's obviously trying really hard but just kind of sucks from time to time. Booing the coaches is your excuse? Don't care, the players couldn't tell, and now they probably think we're all asshats because of you. You have a "right" to boo. You also have the right to give your grandmother the finger and call her a harlot.

5. As similar as my viewpoint is to Brian's, I do not actually agree with him that you have a "right" to boo. If Auburn football was the Philadelphia Eagles and Auburn University was in the professional business of providing professional football entertainment to you, the paying customer, then yes, you could boo to your heart's content whenever you felt less than entertained.

But unlike the Philadelphia Eagles, the Auburn University football team doesn't exist to entertain you. It exists, to whittle it into the smallest nutshell I can, to represent the University, provide a more interesting campus life for its students, and offer scholarships to athletes who otherwise might not have the chance to attend college. I know exactly how Pollyanna that sounds, thanks, so don't bother to tell me--multimillion dollar business never go to class jet planes recruiting boosters yadda yadda yadda, I know, I know. But there are hundreds of D-III schools across this country that take to football fields every Saturday in front of no more than their families, friends, and a few dozen fellow students. If Eagles fans abandon the team, the Eagles go out of business; if every single Auburn fan abandons the team and the University stops giving away football scholarships and Jordan-Hare is torn down and turned into paperweights, there will still be an Auburn football team practicing in the August heat and doing battle on the Plains on fall afternoons. You and your ticket have nothing to do with that.

The essentials of the situation are these: you buy an Eagles ticket so they can please you; you buy an Auburn ticket so you can support them. That's how college football works, whether it's at a fledgling D-III program like Birmingham-Southern's or in a 87K-seat megastadium like Jordan-Hare. Forgive me, but if you can't understand that or refuse to acknowledge it, and do something that is the very opposite of supporting the Auburn football team, you don't deserve a ticket. You may disagree if you like, certainly. But from where I sit a ticket does not give you the right to boo an Auburn football team.

6. Boo Birds, I'm well aware that very few of you plan on booing when you purchase your ticket. You aren't expecting to boo as you make their way into your seats on gameday, or as the game kicks off, and sometimes not even until the exact moment your anger bubbles up and the boo is escaping from your lips. And hoo boy, I know as well as you how angry this 2008 Auburn Tigers team is capable of making us. As one widely-read recent post by an upset Auburn fan put it:
I heard a lot of booing Saturday during the 2nd half. I know some people were booing the play calling. A caller on the radio show said players can’t separate who the boos are directed at. I agree booing isn’t an answer, but we as Auburn fans are very frustrated. If we could call the Attorney General and have Tony Franklin arrested for fraud we would ... If the administration and some Harri Krishna fans don’t want people to boo then please help us turn the offense around or give us an outlet for our frustration.
Would you genuinely like an outlet, Boo Birds? There's one at the bottom of this post marked "comments." There's one here, and here, or here or hell, if you're in for the long haul and you can turn a phrase, go here. If those aren't direct enough for you, there's contact information for the entire Auburn Athletic Department right here; maybe someone there will listen to an e-mail or handwritten letter. Of course, you could also let your wallet speak and just stay home. I'd say that's a win-win for everyone, as you get to tell the administration what you think about the team's direction in a fashion they'll certainly understand without having to tell the players you don't respect the hours and hours and hours of effort they've made to get ready for the game you're watching.

Oh, but wait, you were just booing the coaches, you say? I'm sure Chris Todd understands that perfectly. And if you really "agree booing isn’t an answer" but but but but you're just so frustrated you can't help it ... well, there's a name for people who can't control the noises that pop out of their mouth when they get particularly emotional. They're called "children."*

7. It's not necessary for me to tell you that booing doesn't actually accomplish anything, right? You know that the coaches are smart enough to figure out you're not happy when the team hasn't made a first down in six possessions before you open your mouth, right? That the players despise it? That it makes recruits jumpy as hell? (Unless you think Tennessee's hotshot QB recruit abandoning ship within days of seeing the Vols booed out of their own stadium really was just a coincidence.) I'm assuming that, as a college football fan, you know all these things already.

I'm also assuming that when there's steam you just by golly gotta blow off, you can't bring yourself to care. The team You come first.

8. I had a commenter tell me recently that booing is "just a reality of modern day college football." True. Voter apathy is also a reality of modern day politics. I guess all those "Hey, you should probably go vote" campaigns should just close up shop, huh?

9. Yes, Boo Bird, that analogy is ridiculously over the top. This entire post is, to some extent, over the top. Yes, I feel strongly about this, but I'm not going to make a stand in the Jordan-Hare turnstiles to keep out anyone who admits to booing. There are good Auburn men and women out there who have likely suffered a rush of blood to head and booed, don't regret it much, and might again. And of course, there are those students who are so drunk they're not sure if they're booing a football player for a bad play or a cheerleader for not being hot enough or the scoreboard for not showing Auburn ahead by more; they just know booing seems the thing to do, so they might as well. So it goes.

But Boo Bird, here's the thing: whatever you think of booing vis a vis being a football fan, or college football, or sports in general, I have to tell you it's just not Auburn. Jay Coulter, after you tore apart Brandon Cox in last year's Mississippi St. game:
Legendary Auburn coach Shug Jordan was known as the "gentleman coach." He demanded that his players play with class, dignity and respect. When asked once about a team’s fans booing its players, Jordan replied that Auburn people would never do that.

What would Shug think now?
He'd probably think we need to take a closer look at the Auburn Creed, which reads like so:
I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.
Hiding behind the safety of a crowd of thousands to do something you would never do to an Auburn athlete's face is the opposite of the human touch. When you ignore an Auburn athlete's dedication and hard work and day-to-day triumphs to mock him or her for their in-game failings, you are cultivating the opposite of sympathy. When you boo, you bring the opposite of happiness.

You may be an Auburn fan, Boo Bird. But when you boo, you're the opposite of Auburn. So I kindly ask you go boo somewhere else.

Jerry Hinnen

*(Or, alternatively, "more intoxicated than is proper.")


weagle251 said...

Well put, Jerry!

Bubba said...


Thank you.

DFord said...

Ever stop to think that the booing was directed at the ex-offensive genius and ineffectiveness of the great and powerful spread offense?

Anonymous said...

Very eloquent Jerry. We should ask the University to print these up and place them on every seat in Jordan-Hare.

Anonymous said...

dford -

Methinks you missed the point of the entire article. Go back, in particular, and read #6, 7, and 9.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting my feelings into words better than I ever could. I think those who boo should remember the line from the Auburn Creed " I believe in Auburn and love it.". Oh, and the Michigan guy is right, if you boo Auburn, you're an asshat.

Anonymous said...

Anybody that boos an Auburn player is not part of the Auburn family and is not a true fan!

Ben said...

Well said, sir.

cotton said...

dford- read the letter again.

Benjamin Gottlieb said...

Amen. I was at the Tenneesse game and my brother actually stood up and chastised the other fans for booing. when I was little I never heard of booing you own team. Even from Bama fans. Its silly. I'm not a student of the University but certainly agreen with your letter 100%. and its not over the top at all :P

3rd Down H-Back said...

nicely put. I have been lucky enough not to attend a game this year due to work. I don't think I could stand it.

But I will always be an Auburn fan.