After a crazy six games, the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team and their fans finally got a week off. The players got a chance to rest. The coaches, hopefully, continued to develop legitimate schemes and strategies that would play off players’ various strengths all the while masking their weaknesses. And the fans, well, the fans, theoretically at least, were given a chance to cool off.
The fans needed to cool off because, apparently, they’ve been getting a little too hot and bothered during the last couple of games that the Huskers played in. Or more specifically, in one particular game.
After Nebraska fell behind 21-6 to the Ohio State Buckeyes during the last outing, fans began to boo the home team going into halftime. Now, to be fair, said fans restrained themselves through a lot of awful play and didn’t actually start booing until quarterback Taylor Martinez threw his first interception of the game late in the second quarter. Nevertheless, boos could still be heard in Memorial Stadium.
Ultimately, in the second half, the boos turned to cheers when linebacker Lavonte David made the clutch defensive stand of the year and gave the momentum right back to the Huskers. Shortly thereafter, Martinez and his offense were cheered on as they led a historic comeback. And by the time the end of the game rolled around, everyone forgot about the mild exhibition of negativity that reared its ugly head going into halftime.
Everyone except head coach Bo Pelini, that is.
"I know they want to want to win badly, but I have to remind them all that we want to win just as bad," said Pelini after the game. "The bottom line is I simply don't believe there's any place for booing in a college stadium. Some fans may disagree with that, but that's something I feel strongly about."
Yup, he pretty much threw down the gauntlet. No booing – ever.
Generally you could write something like that off as ridiculous coach speak and ignore it accordingly. However, given the recent poll results that show Pelini is extremely popular among Nebraskans, we began to wonder:
Does Coach have a point? Should Husker fans never boo the squad, under any circumstances?
The negatives of booing impressionable college players are clear. You ruin their confidence and perhaps force them into making dumb mistakes out of nervousness. You make them feel badly about themselves and, in turn, might inadvertently cause them to put excess pressure on each subsequent play. You’re also being mean – which is never a nice thing.
Then again, there are positives to booing. For one, it toughens your players up. They’ll definitely get booed and heckled when they visit opposing stadiums, and a little rough love once in a while never hurts anyone. Also, it gives them motivation to try harder. If there are no consequences to playing poorly other than a given player’s competitiveness, that competitive edge may dull after a while. And, finally – it’s a pretty good life lesson. When you mess up, people yell at you. Your significant other, your kids, your neighbors, your boss, gardeners, bankers, cops, bookies, mail men, dogs, parrots, etc. When something goes wrong, people don’t pat you on your head and tell you it’s okay. That in itself is a valuable life lesson.
You also have to consider the source. Pelini, as great a character as he is, is notorious for berating people that don’t do things the way that he thinks they should be done. Nobody is safe from his wrath when you-know-what hits the fan. Maybe he doesn’t boo folks, but shouting at them and embarrassing them with a thorough tongue-lashing is hardly the Kumbaya approach Pelini wants fans to take.
So, in conclusion, yes – boo the players when they don’t perform up to stuff. Just don’t get abrasive or personal about it. Boo within the confines of the stadium, boo throughout the game but, when the game ends, it’s over.
And for the love of God, please don’t take it into the classroom.