Questioning fan etiquette: To boo or not to boo? All Green Bay Packers All the Time
During the Lambeau Leap, it's entirely acceptable to cheer. But when is it acceptable to boo? Or is it?
During the Lambeau Leap, it’s entirely acceptable to cheer. But when is it acceptable to boo? Or is it?

By paying the price of admission, it’s certainly every fan’s right to boo or express their displeasure as long as it’s within reason. There’s no debate there.

But by tabbing the “Boo Birds” as a Lame Call, I dove into a debate ignited by Sunday’s rare booing at Lambeau Field during the game between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons.

Booing is fine. To each his own. If you paid for a ticket and wish to make good on the investment by booing, that’s your decision.

But in my opinion, when you’re at a game in support of a team, there are just a few things that need to be considered and a few rules to follow.

1) Be loud when you should be loud: 

When your team is on defense, it’s entirely acceptable and encouraged to be loud. You can’t intercept a pass or sack the quarterback, but, in the case of Lambeau Field in the winter, you can team up with the cold weather and make things difficult for the opposing team.

2) Be quiet when you should be quiet: 

When your team has the ball–especially in a key situation–you should sit on your hands, put your vuvuzela away and hold your breath. When your quarterback has his arms to his side and palms to the ground, motioning for the crowd to be quiet, he’s not reenacting “Angels in the Outfield.” He wants you to be quiet.

3) Adhere to any team specific cheers or chants:

If you’re in the student section at a Wisconsin Badger football game, you’re going to jump around. If you’re at a Florida St. game, then you’ll participate in the ridiculously cool Seminole chop and chant. Sing your “Fly, Eagles, Fly” song in Philadelphia, or jam out to Ke$ha before kickoff at Lambeau Field when “the place about to blow.” And I pray that you all know the last one was a joke, by the way.

If you want “your team” to have a homefield advantage, do whatever you can to create/maintain said advantage.

Here’s where there’s a little grey area.

Players appreciate a good homefield advantage. If you’ve been to enough athletic events, you know the difference between a good environment and a bad one. I’m reminded of Tom Brady’s request in September 2011 that New England Patriots’ fans “get lubed up” in advance of the team’s home opener against the San Diego Chargers.

For the Seattle Seahawks, it’s probably really fun to play at Qwest Field. Not so much for everyone else.

But with the Jacksonville Jaguars, there are probably a lot of players dreaming of greener grass somewhere other than EverBank Field. Opposing teams don’t mind a trip down to Florida to play in front of a not-so-passionate-or-hostile home crowd.

In a class of its own, historically, in comparison to other NFL stadiums, Lambeau Field has always been regarded as a tough place for visiting teams to play. And the Packers’ fan base is one of the more passionate in professional sports and perhaps led to the booing just before halftime of Sunday’s game.

As far as fans knowing what to do and when to do it, with different sports and scenarios come different expectations.

Sitting at a baseball park for the 14th game of a 162-game season is different than going to a football stadium on a given Sunday to watch a playoff contender play 6.25 percent one of their regular season. These things are to be considered, along with whether its a preseason, postseason or regular season game, the current state of the team, etc.

In the case of the current Packers, while it had been more than a month since their last win, the team has been ravaged by the injuries yet again this season, thanks in large part to a broken collarbone suffered by their finest player and 2011 MVP Aaron Rodgers.

Any time a team isn’t undefeated, there’s blame somewhere for someone from somebody. The last 20-some quarters of Packers football haven’t been their best display of the past couple decades, and fans have every right to be frustrated.

But, as Packers offensive guard Josh Sitton tweeted, now is the time for the team’s fan base to create a hostile environment for visitors at Lambeau Field. Sitton tweeted, “Never been booed at Lambeau before, stick with us guys! Gotta believe! #allweneedisachance.”

The Packers, at 6-6-1, still have a chance with three games to play, but the remainder of their season will almost certainly be of the “must-win” variety. Yes, the product on the field recently hasn’t been something the Packers are proud of. Believe it or not, players want to win games almost as bad as fans; the 0-4-1 record prior to Sunday’s game is undoubtedly hard for the team to swallow. So, in came the boo birds.

Is it acceptable to boo? Again, that comes with the price of admission. But if I’m at a game as a fan, I just can’t boo a team playing under the circumstances the Packers played at Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. I can shake my head and voice my displeasure or go through a bunch of “what if” scenarios with the guy next to me, but I’m not going to boo, even if that’s what the guy next to me is doing.

People, like anything else, have different ways of showing their fandom. But if I were at Sunday’s game as a Packers fan, I wouldn’t be booing Matt Flynn, Josh Boyd, Jordy Nelson or anyone else. This team was playing well despite the early rash of injuries, thanks to their MVP quarterback, but said quarterback hasn’t played since Nov. 4.

They’re hanging on by a thread, but they’re still hanging on.

So, what say you? Is my de facto Fan Etiquette Constitution reasonable? Ridiculous? Work with me.


Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


39 thoughts on “Questioning fan etiquette: To boo or not to boo?

  1. I don’t see a problem with booing especially if it’s a rare occurrence like you saw with the fans at Lambeau.

    The team had played like crap for the last five games and the tensions that had been building for weeks finally burst. Fans felt that had to voice their displeasure at the ineptness and lack of passion by the players since Rodgers went down.

    The booing looked like it work. After HT the defense in particular played with more fire and passion. Maybe the players sat back and realised that if such a moderate fan base can get angry and show disappointment then maybe they have a point. They certainly looked better after it.

    So in this particular circumstance booing in my opinion was fair.

    1. I agree and I hate booing. If they played bad one game, even really bad, you don’t boo. However, people weren’t booing that game – they were booing the past 6. Almost half of the season lost to inept play and underachievement. No one expected a 5-1 record over that span, but what we saw was just a total breakdown and lack of effort. The Packers deserved the boos at that point.

      And you know what? They came back in the second half. Maybe the defense heard them.

      1. I booed.. Mostly cause of the crap playcalling from MM. I understand AROD isnt playing but this isn’t the seahawks we were playing either… Boo as half started and players coaches took notice and this losing will not be tolerated around here.

  2. The way they played in the first half vs a dome team from the south in a frigid Lambeau was deserving of boos, IMO.

    This was on the heels of more than a month without a win. They sure played like they were feeling sorry for themselves with all the injuries for most of that stretch. All the more reason why the boos were well-earned.

  3. On another site, a fan chastised Packer nation for having the temerity to ‘boo’ the team. Following is my reply, which not only talks to booing, but other things we bump up against in society these days when dissenting voices disagree:

    “Wow! This whole ‘let me tell you how to think and act’ thing on these pages is wearing real thin and getting out of hand. If I pay my hard earned money to come watch the game, and I like/don’t like what I’m seeing, I’ll cheer/boo as loud and as hard as I choose because a lot of people better than you and me gave up everything they had to assure that I could do that as I choose, not how someone told me I have to, and I can’t think of a better way to honor that ideal and their sacrifice than to express it often.

    Your thesis is that Packer fans are more savvy, classier, than any other fans, thus they should refrain from what in your mind is boorish behavior. I’ve had the good fortune to live in and visit many places and attend football games in a lot of different cities and stadiums. You know what? People are pretty much the same all over. So maybe get over the idea that Packer fans are so much better than everyone else? Getting around does wonders to broaden one’s perspective and keeps one from having really narrow points of view.

    I have a special, dark place in my heart for thought police.”

    1. When you are paying the kind of money for a ticket we pay, an see a laok of effort on the field the players desire the boos. The past 5 weeks have been very hard to watch as a fan.

      1. Not to mention the players are making an amount of money in one year that most will not make in a lifetime.

        You are getting paid to do a job, so do it to the best of your ability (which means putting forth effort and going the extra mile).

        I have no problem with the booing. This team and coaches have been S***ting the
        bed for weeks & should be ashamed of themselves. Let’s go watch some more tape!

    2. Since graduating from college in 1978, I lived in Washington, D.C., New York City, Detroit, Dallas, Cincinnati and other places with no NFL team. This is courtesy of a military and airline career.

      Packer fans ARE more knowledgeable about their team than other teams in the cities I lived before. I suspect, but can’t prove, this is because there are no other professional sports teams competing for the Packers’ fan attention as in these other markets. The closest is the Milwaukee Brewers.

      I find that Packers fans are more likely to follow the Packers throughout the year instead of throughout the season. Using Washington, D.C. as an example, the professional sports fan has the choice of the Redskins and Ravens, the Nationals and the Orioles, the Wizards (Bullets when I was there) and the Capitals. For the Packers’ fan, there is no similar division of attention. This is part of why I find Packers’ fans more knowledgeable of their team.

      As to “booing” the team going into halftime against the Falcons, some obviously chose to do so. Had I been there, I like to think I would not have joined them. However, this “opportunity” to express dissatisfaction with the play of the team presented itself. It was a “window of opportunity” to vent anger and some took it. As others have stated, it might have worked.

      Unlike other professional sports teams, some Packers fans are owners and have the discretion to legitimately express their displeasure.

  4. Yeah, booing is not my game because I am not spending time or effort on negative energy. I don’t blame people for booing, it is an expression of frustration. This team and its coaches have not performed well for most of the season and people have the right to let them know that the same old, same old is not appreciated.

    Fans were telling the Packers that they needed to start playing – period! It seemed to have worked. Rather than McCarthy feeling offended that the home team got booed, perhaps he should stop spouting the same “we got to clean it up” and “we need to hold each other accountable” sound bites and actually perform better.

    Lest they think it is fixed, the Packers have a lot of work to get over the boo threshold. The O-line is still inconsistent, McCarthy’s playcalling is average at best and the defense has some big communications gaps. The bullet has been dodged, in large part due to a great effort. We still need to play better fundamental football.

  5. After reading all the previous responses saying booing is appropriate when the team fails the fans, I think this is the best blog for Packers fans and I’m proud of everyone who contributed their opinion.

    Booing isn’t in the nature of most Packer fans, but the way this team played until halftime of the Atlanta game they certainly deserved the boos. I believe the fans delivered a message that needed to be heard by the players, the coaches and most importantly the upper management: We will not accept mediocre play. Time is ticking and we want another Lombardi Trophy with Aaron Rodgers as our quarterback!

  6. I never boo anyone who is not getting paid (college level or below).

    When pros crap the bed, they deserve to be booed. With GB this year, the boo birds took 5 weeks of sub-par EFFORT (not play level mind you) to come out.

    That booing was completely deserved. If I were there, I’d have been booing my lungs out. And I’d do it whenever the team warranted it again.

    That being said, let’s take some time to remember how little reason we as Packer fans have had to boo at home for multi-game stretches since 1992.

    1999, 2005, 2008, and 2013. That’s 16 out of 20 years we’ve been at least average or better. I wonder how fans of the Lions, Vikings and Bears do this almost every year?

    We are truly spoiled.

    1. “I never boo anyone who is not getting paid (college level or below).”

      Couldn’t agree more. Sure those kids get scholarships and opportunities, but that’s chump change compared to the revenue they generate…and their lifestyle is almost ridiculously limited to preserve that eligibility.

      As for booing, I think we give ourselves too much credit for the impact that being booed actually has on the team. There might be a player or two that it registers with, but most are going to be too engrossed in adjustments (if any), viewing game pics and the like. And halftime is a long time to go sit in a locker room listening to coaches (and players) to think that booing before will carry through.

    2. Agreed.

      One point of exception – I fear the success of the last few years is very deceiving if it is based on one player. This team should not fall apart because they lost one guy. Look at da Bears last night. Back-up QB and they played lights out. Many others have done the same this year. Either our players and coaches had a huge letdown over losing #12 or we are carrying a lot of non-NFL level talent on the team. I fear it is much of both. We will get our answer Sunday. Who has worst defense in the league – GB or DAL? If we can’t give DAL a fight we suck. I believe it will be Turkey day revisited. If so, the fault lies at the top in TT. H esimply is not getting the job done as GM, especially on defense. But even on offense, not having a respectable back-up at C or QB is unforgivable. Oh well. Nothiong to do but to wait a few years for TT to be replaced. And MM too. Just a shame to waste AROD. In the old days when we were so bad, we didn’t have a great QB so it didn’t seem as bad. But we did have a few great players who wasted away toiling in GB during the dark ages. Wolf changed all that. So did Holmgren. Having closely followed the draft for nearly 50 years now, well before ESPN was even invented, I just don’t have any faith in the job TT’s doing or his one dimensional philosophy. Draft and develop is OK I guess when you are hitting on most of your draft picks and sometimes picking near THE TOP BUT WHEN YOU ARE PICKING NEAR THE BOTTOM AND MISSING, it doesn’t work. Do the math. Stop offering Hawk, Raji et. al. big bucks and go find some players who can play right now. Woodson and Pickett were great adds. You can’t tell me there weren’t some decent back-up C and QBs available. Ditto a S. Anyway, enough of my b*tching. Merry X-Mas to the best fans in the world!

      1. Realizing that the Bears have more offensive talent (skill positions and line)and a more creative offensive play-caller than the Packers is very sobering.

        Depressing, even.

      2. Archie, I checked the like box after your opinion. I would have checked it ten more times but we are only limited to one. Everything you said was exactly how I feel, only you said it a lot better than I could. Kudos to you. Losing the best QB on the planet should not have affected the team to the extent it did. It didn’t happen to Chicago nor the Eagles. So their backups are better than the Packers backups in the QB position. That’s management’s fault. If the teams with a QB like Palmer, Tannehill, Campbell or Dalton lose their QB would the team go 0-4-1 as the Packers did? My point is that too much blame for the Packers’ performance is being put on the loss of Rodgers. In reality, it simply exposed so many weaknesses from so many individual players.

  7. I wish I was getting paid millions at my job and could screw up, not care, have lack of effort, and then just have my boss come in and go Boooooooo, but then give me a raise and extension. No lets not Boooooo these poor millionaires that can’t do their jobs.

  8. Marques, I think that your thoughts on booing and fan noise are reasonable, especially on making noise when our team is playing defense. However, I also believe that any fan who pays their hard earned money for a ticket has the right to boo. I am not and have not booed much during my trips to all types of sporting venues, but I feel towards booing is the way I feel about free speech. I may not agree with what you say or with your booing, but I will defend your right to say it or to boo. In this week’s game at Lambeau, I think the fans booed because they saw the Packers last chance slipping away against an opponent that could be defeated. There was also likely some carry over from the Lions game. In any case I don’t think it’s a big deal and fans will boo when they are disappointed with the product on the field. They have paid for that, just they like they have paid to cheer for their team. I heard plenty of cheers during halftime for Dave Robinson. Maybe that made the Packers play better in the second half. I know it made me feel better, I remember watching Robinson and those great Lombardi teams. When I see those tapes of those great old days it’s like comfort food when I don’t feel well. Thanks, Since ’61

  9. Pretty sure I’m gonna get hell for this… Just typing out loud…

    I don’t like dealing in the “what if” land… However, let’s say the Flynn pass was kicked into the air and instead caught and advanced for a GB TD. We go into the halftime having played essentially the same game, with one freak play making the difference. Do the fans boo the team on the way out then?

    It wasn’t just the quality of play, or the score, it was fear of being done for the year. The fans booed because they were afraid of what a loss meant. That’s weak.

  10. When your team consistently sucks you have an obligation to boo. Else, how will changes be made to right the ship? Obviously TT formula of drat & develop is not working in GB, at least not for its defense. All that is working is when the best QB on the planet is playing, they can win and w/o him they are the poster child for the ugliest excuse for an NFL team out there. They should have lost the ATL game at the end if Douglass holds on to a perfect pass while wide open. Don’t kid yourselves, DC + TT = losing formula for defense. Why aren’t Datone Jones, Nick Perry, AJ Hawk, Morgan Burnett, BJ Raji, Jerel Worthy et. al. making plays? Maybe there’s still hope for Jones & Perry but the rest are lost causes. Burnett has gone dumb and soft since pocketing $25MM of our money. Ditto T Williams ($36MM). And TT responds by offering Raji $8MM/yr?!!!! And Raji declines it!!!! He’s worth 4-5MM tops. And now, rumor is, TT is working on a $40 MM contract for Shields. Can’t wait to see how that works our for Packer fans. people say TT is a tightwad. Not true. He just spends his money stupidly. See Williams, Raji, Hawk et. al. On Every team spends all its salary cap or very close to it, even TT. All that matters is what you get in return for your salary cap dollars. TT showed he was clueless when he let C Jenkins walk, twice. The guy’s an ass-clown and Packer fans need to wake up to that fact. 2010 was a freak occurrence. SB is not in the conversation until we have at least a decent defense. When was the last team you saw in the SB with a defense that was soft and slow? Never you say? Right. Hey, TT has had only 9 years to build a defense so maybe he needs more time, say another 9 years. By then AROD will be retired. So too late Packer fans. Too bad for you. But at least you can say you were a “In Ted We Trust” kinda fan. I want a new GM in GB. I also want a new HC and a new DC. The guys we have now are ass-clowns.

  11. I was at the game. The lack of urgency on offense and poor tackling on defense justified the boos. I did not boo, but the season was on the line. It is rare at lambeau for that to happen but when the season is on the line and the team is playing like crap I have no problem with it. But fans need to cheer when needed as well. During the falcons las two drives I could not believe people were still in their seats and going crazy. There was no noise until third or fourth down.

  12. Your rules for fans attending a pro sports game, Packers in this case is just dumb…with the price of a ticket fans really dont need goofy guidelines like that..99% of the fans act responsibly the other one percent get kicked out…

  13. I think the etiquette is different for pro sports compared to amateur sports. In High school, university, the loyalty calls for the etiquette you mention. Stick with the team, regardless of performance. But in pro sports, here is the bargain: we pay for a product/experience, and pour out our respect admiration and even sometimes our decency to scream, and offer wild, crazy support. People pay athletes to bring out their excellence, and unfolding drama and dream-scenario overcoming of the obstacles. Athletes get money, fame…and some other stuff along with that, that I couldn’t dream of. If they can’t deliver a good experience, then they don’t live up to their end of the bargain. People stop buying tickets. People start to booo. You can’t make people buy tickets just out of loyalty can you?

    1. People will buy tickets until the end of time in Green Bay. It’s the experience of Lambeau Field. Doesn’t matter if the Packers have lost 10 years in a row games will be sold out. I guarantee it…

  14. Ok, now the discussion about trifles like this are over, lets stand behind this team that has gone through some hudge adversities this year and let them know that we are like them all Packers!!! Go Pack!!!!!!

  15. I am going to boo if the bears don’t give a huge contract to Cutler. He is so good at throwing the packers the ball it be a shame.

  16. It’s a very rare occasion to hear boos at Lambeau. Lambeau field, unlike Philadelphia and New York and other Cities, rarely boos their team. The Boos were the fans way of relaying thier displeasure with the lack of performance they had been witnessing the last 5 weeks. Bad blocking, tackling , coverage , effort and leadership, by players and coaches making millions of dollars, was unexceptable. Remember, this crowd was fresh off of watching that embarrassing performance in Detroit the week before. That performance in Detroit, with everything on the line, was half hearted and pathetic. The team quit. I’m sorry, but with the performance this team had been displaying, including the coaching and the Blunder by TT to not have a quality back up QB ready to go of the bench at Chicago, gives the fans the right to express displeasure. Some rare Boos at Lambeau were warranted. This team is worshiped by these fans, it was about time the team had a wake up call and heard themselves get booed. It seemed to work.

  17. Booing never inspires anything but contempt. Go ahead and boo if you think you paid for the right. Boo until the cows come home. And the horses, dogs, cats and pigs. Do what you believe is right for you. That’s why we’re fans (fanatics)! That’s a personal choice. But booing is negative, not positive, and it is not inspirational. It does not inspire players or whoever you are booing to change. Now, they might do something different to spite you, but someone getting booed will most likely not be inspired to do anything.

  18. Its a game, mankind has always booed at sporting events. Mostly the booers look as bad as the players I think. Most of the time I think it hurts more than helps, except in certain circumstances. Maybe last Sunday was one of those. Wild crazy cheering is a better way to act like a nut – don’t want to be angry nuts. People should absolutely boo if they want. Thomas Jefferson. Ben Franklin, herbie Hancock and friends were envisioning our 5 game skid when they devised those rights we hold dear. I also think I should have the right to bear arms at the bears game. I reserve the right to drink myself into a stupor as well.

  19. Here’s something to boo about, word on the street is that Aaron is done for the season. Hope they are wrong…

    1. Flynn and Tolezean, could do fine without Rodgers not as good, but passable the o line and d line have given up for the year, with their attitude even with Rodgers we would be in the same Fix.

  20. Said it after the first story the booing was at the right time and in response to play on the field. You keep ignoring the fact that when the team came back out and played with fire and aggression the fans responded with a wall of noise especially at the end when the Birds need to move the ball and the D held strong.

  21. I was there and did not Boo, however, I wanted to when MM callled a draw play with 4 seconds left and Lacy came up limping. Horrible decision from MM. Nothing good can happen on that play, just take a knee.

  22. There has to be a reason we have so many injuries every year, not training hard enough, incorrect training, lack of warm up, lazy training. Players to heavy for their frames, when Hawk put on all that weight at whomever’s wishes, he could not play professional level, once he lost the weight he is back to his drafted play. Are we requiring our players to over develop above what their frames will allow. I was at the game I could not bring myself to boo, but I sure felt like it

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