Booing, Tanking & Fandom

As we approach the all-star break, races are heating up. Teams are jockeying for position. Transactions are being made, shaping the second half of the season. Games are being won and lost. As we come down the final stretch, fans will be glued to their seats and constantly refreshing standings to see where their team sits. However, some fans will be looking at these standings in reverse order because the race to get Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel is hotter than any playoff chase.

Tanking is All the Talk

A team square in the middle of this race, or more accurately, flat at the bottom is the Buffalo Sabres. So instead of talking about line combinations, potential trade-deadline acquisitions and playoff possibilities, the talk around town has been tanking. As a matter of fact, the debate over tanking and how fans should react has created a hotly contested debate.

The question this discussion is centered on is, should fans outwardly root for (or at least hope) their team to lose in order to finish at the bottom of the standings to secure a high draft pick or increase the lottery odds of doing so? In one corner, hockey pundits believe that fans should cheer for there team through thick and thin, always being supportive. The other side of the argument suggests fans have every right to hope for the best outcome for long-term success, which for most underachieving franchises would be acquiring a generational talent.

The debate seemed to reach a boiling point on Buffalo sports radio WGR 550. On-air personality Jeremy White goes on a rant about why he shouldn’t feel bad for cheering for the Sabres to finish last. Take a listen below.

Within the same breadth is the argument about whether or not Sabres fans have the right to boo the poor product being displayed on the ice. Similar to the argument previously presented, some believe that a “true fan” is always supportive of their team and never shows such a display of “disrespect.” Other will tell you, fans deserve to be entertained and if they’re displeased, they have a right to display their discontent.

So what’s proper etiquette? Should fans boo? Should fans “embrace the tank”? The only way to answer this is to understand and define what a fan actually is.

What it Means to Be a Fan

We’ve all heard terms like, “bandwagoners,” “fair weather fans” and “diehards.” There seems to be a need to build a fan hierarchy in order to rank fans in different classes and put ourselves above others. Someone’s bound to put you down because you don’t know the third-line right winger that played on your favorite team during the second half of the 1983 season. Or maybe you’ll be scorned because you happened to miss the 47th game of the regular season.

Well… all of that is nonsense!

(Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)
(Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

As long as you’re conducting yourself in a respectful manner and enjoying your experience, no one can tell you how to be a fan. Fans pay good money to see their favorite team play, shell out piles of cash on memorabilia and invest a lot of time in watching and following along. That alone gives a fan any right to support a team how ever he or she sees fit. If you deem that the team deserves to be booed, then boo. If you think acquiring the first pick will help your team succeed, then hope for that to happen.

After all, the true essence of sports and fanhood is a collective group of individuals uniting for a common cause and creating a sense of community. Rather than creating degrees of separation, it’s about coming together as one.

What are your thoughts on booing, tanking and being a fan?

6 thoughts on “Booing, Tanking & Fandom”

  1. I have been a Sabres fan since 1974 through both ups and downs. It is hard through the down times especially the last few years. I will always root for Buffalo. Even now, I would like to see them win but knowing they just can’t click this season, I am hoping that they get the high pick in the draft. Sooner or later the prospects will start clicking together and we should have a good run for a number of years. Have I ever booed them? – NO! Have I ever been disappointed? – YES. I am a true Buffalo fan through and through. Go Sabres and Go Bills!

    • Thanks for the read RocketMan.

      Unfortunately, being disappointed and being a Buffalo sports fan goes hand-in-hand.

      Although we live in a world of instant gratification, I think we need to remain patient. I also believe the Sabres will be a true contender within a few years. I’m confident the Sabres current personnel will not only bring in the right players, but also develop them properly.

  2. Absolutely is it right. Take a look at the Sabres since 1999. With the exception of ’06 and ’07 (back to back ECF) we have been consistently mediocre to pretty bad. That means always ending up ranking from around 9th to 12th in the conference. Never good enough to get in the playoff dance, but never bad enough to draft the high octane pieces to get you there. The Sabres are my favorite sports team in the world, and I consider myself no less of a fan for being happy racking up losses. Would I like to eventually see this 11 game streak end? Of course. But not until we put some distance between us and Edmonton.

    • Hey,

      Thanks for the read. Yeah, it’s been tough to be stuck in this mediocre “bubble.” Really looking forward to taking a big step forward. I’m also confident that the personnel in place will not only draft the right players, but also develop them properly (unlike the previous regime). As Edmonton is a prime example, drafting is only the first phase in building a true contender.

  3. Season ticket holder here and a true Sabre’s fan. We are rooting for the tank and will not boo. I watch the Sabres lose and check the standings to see if Edmonton, Carolina and Phoenix are winning. I was beginning to worry when Buffalo went on the winning streak.

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