We’re proud to release the latest installment of Flyers’ Faithful’s “Point/Counterpoint” series. This week, Jim and I discuss whether it was OK or not to boo the New York Rangers alumni team on New Year’s Eve.
Jim starts us off with his justification:
Some of us saw it live and participated. Some saw it on TV. Some only heard about it but almost everyone has an opinion about it. It occurred during the Winter Classic weekend, at what was arguably the better ticket of the event, the Alumni Game. You could not wipe the smile from my face as I watched the parade of former Flyer and Ranger standouts, make their way on the ice. The Flyers, from Bobby Clarke to Eric Lindros to Mark Recchi were met with the excitement and reverence one would expect.
However, when the former Ranger stars, from Ron Greshner to Ron Duguay (and his hair) to John Vanbiesbrouk took the ice, you could hear it…the boos! I’ll begin by saying that even as a die hard Flyers fan and Ranger hater, I was just as excited and reverent to see my old Rangers nemeses again. I most likely wouldn’t have jeered. That said, I stand by the fans right to do so, if the feeling moves them.
Yes, these are former greats that deserve our respect but booing doesn’t always have to mean a lack of respect. On the contrary, in most cases it means the opposite. Philly fans generally get a bad rap and there are definitely those that would serve to perpetuate that stereotype. Id heard some rumblings after the Alumni game, about how the classless Flyers fans, booed the retired players and it caused me to think about my own experiences playing sports.
If I were a former player, what would be worse than hearing the boos…would be to hear nothing. Booing means that at one time, people had a very string opinion about me, it means I mattered. Whether it was my great play that stumped a team or just my tenacity, it means that I left a mark on another teams fan base and really, nothing would make me more proud.
Based on some of the player interviews during the game, I think most of the Rangers fed off of those boos, in a way they haven’t experienced in ages. I would welcome it. I would even argue that the boos were less vicious and more tongue in cheek in their intent.
Taking the worst of us aside, Philly fans are a passionate bunch , who will let you know exactly what we think of you, for better or for worse. From the fan standpoint, it doesn’t matter that he has been out of the league for a few years. It feels good to let your old rival have it. Don’t see it as disrespect but instead another form if respect, reserved for a worthy adversary.
I agree with Jim that in Philadelphia a “boo” is a sound that an opponent should know is coming and frankly, should want to hear.
If we aren’t booing you, then you probably aren’t very good. We don’t boo Sidney Crosby because he’s an awful player, we boo him because he kills us. That being said, the Rangers alumni team could have gotten a little respect and we as a fan base and city could have taken the high road,just this once ,in a fun atmosphere to not boo them as they came out. It was a celebration of hockey and we could all politely given a small golf clap to each Ranger as they came out instead of feeding into the old stereotypes I won’t go into here. In fact, if we really wanted to get under their skin one last time, we should have done the worst thing you can do to any performer,musician or athlete, which is to have had no reaction at all. Nothing.
There is an old saying in pro wrestling, “Make them love you or hate you, but the worst thing is for them not to care about you.” If we had shown either begrudging respect or even apathy, I argue that would have been just as effective as a loud round of boos. In a twisted way, by booing the Ranger alumni, we only gave them what they wanted, instead of what they deserved, respect and admiration for being a worthy opponent and a great rival.