About a year ago, the
drunks boys over at Dear God, Why Us? Sports planned one of their occupy Nassau trips to see the Sabres battle the Islanders. At the time, the Sabres had just come off that January road trip from hell. So we didn't go into the game feeling particularly good about them.
At one point, some of us in the group started to heckle Ryan Miller. I have absolutely no idea what brought this on. I think he let in a soft goal or we just decided to be dicks. Booze was probably involved. A few of us started with the sarcastic "Miller" chant. Four of us became 6 of us, 6 of us became about 10 of us, 10 of us became about 3 rows of us. Yes, between the 10 of us becoming 3 rows of us booing, I decided to join the fray in a "monkey see, monkey do" type of way.
All of a sudden, one of the people in our party got up, turned toward us and gave us the business. He was not happy with us. He pointed very angrily at the group who started the chant and said we should not boo our own team, especially Miller. We all stopped and realized it was pretty stupid for us to do that. It was just a quick, impulsive thing to do. It wasn't predetermined, it was like a gut reaction. In the end, we all hugged it out, and I figured we still liked Miller, obviously, and were just being dicks. We were just heckling to heckle.
We still cheered the Sabres on when they won or made a great play. Frankly, we cheered way more than we booed during that game by a large margin. And I think that's what is missing in the debate of whether fans should boo or cheer at games.
See, there seems to be a blanket statement thrown around that all fans do at games is stew in their seats and boo the crap out of the team. They are the assholes. Fools who want the Sabres to lose. That's crap.
I'm willing to bet the guy who booed the Sabres when they couldn't get the puck out of the Sabres zone for like 2 minutes was the one who cheered the loudest when they won. Now, are there some bad eggs who sit like stone-faced snipers focused on taking out Darcy Regier? Sure. But those guys seem to be the ones getting the attention in all of this.
One thing I've always had a problem with when it comes to the Internet and media is how five people's opinions become those of the majority. The WGR whiner line is not a focus group for how fans in Buffalo are feeling. If someone calls in to say Darcy should be given a 10-year extension, the host shouldn't yell, "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS TOWN?" It's just one guy with one opinion.
Don't let the us vs. them debate get to you when it comes to cheering or booing. As a fan, you have a god-given right to do as you please without being told otherwise. It is freedom of speech, but more importantly, it is about the understanding that being a fanatic means you might have a touch of bipolar disorder when it comes to your teams. I've heckled my share of players when they stink, but I'll always come back to the team when things are good and if that makes me a bandwagon fan, so be it. The point is, I'm there.
Our standards as fans, the Buffalo baggage of losing, the hockey team underachieving, all those things will always have an effect on how we cheer or boo. Just don't let the debate of whether you are a good fan get to you because of what you cheer or when you cheer it. Anyone who watches the games or pays money to see them is a fan.
Don't get caught up in the media making a big spectacle about it because it is a lightning rod of a topic. Forget that the Sabres do have a tendency of being, well, kind of pussies when it comes to outside criticism. There are waaaaaaaaaaay bigger fish to fry when it comes to this team than this. Don't throw around blanket statements and don't judge other fans.
Don't taste what the haters are stirring with their stew of discord, hate, booing, paying the right to bitch, Steve Ott/Ryan Miller's feelings, and then see them rubbing their hands together to say "gotcha!!!" Don't be fooled! The booing topic comes up twice a year now and we should be able to ignore it by now. Don't fall into the fact that we love to argue. Argue about something else that has substance.
It is not healthy to bitch about the bitchers who bitch. Don't fall into it… even though I think I may have done it with this piece. Didn't I?