Time to brush up on our booing, based on the go-for-the-jugular jeering aimed at Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman on Saturday.
The ground rules are pretty simple.
• Never boo any athlete in grades K-12. Or their coaches. Or the refs. If you do, you're a dope. Sorry, you just are.
• Boo college athletes only when they cross the line of protocol so far that they deserve to hear about it. For example, when OSU linebacker Robert Reynolds put a choke hold on Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi in 2003, the appropriate response was to boo him off the field.
• Feel free to boo college coaches for pathetic play-calling or decision-making and the zebras for blown calls. Most of the coaches are being paid handsomely to have their act together. Money matters. To whom much is given, much is expected.
• Boo the pros from the bottom of your heart. Nothing personal. Just business.
• Boo Weekley, especially after the Happy Gilmore dance.
But boo Boeckman? Nope. Shouldn't have happened. If you must, turn to your buddy in the stands and rip the Buckeyes' sixth-year senior; that's called individual irrationality, one fan venting to another. In that case, Boeckman is the target without knowing he's the target. No harm, no foul.
The problem is when catcalls become corporate and booing bounces around the Horseshoe like a vicious version of O-H-I-O. As mentioned, booing college athletes is almost never OK, but booing Boeckman was borderline despicable.
This is the same quarterback who last season led Ohio State to 11 wins, a Big Ten title and the national championship game. He deserved better than to be booed after underthrowing a receiver against Troy on his second and last snap of the game.
Please don't try to claim the boos were aimed at Jim Tressel for inserting Boeckman in the game in place of freshman starter Terrelle Pryor. The boos came after the incompletion, not before.
Let's be clear, this is not a call for Boeckman to regain the starting job. Frankly, he fails the eyeball test, which is to say it's obvious that Pryor gives the Buckeyes the best chance to win.
This also is not a concession to fans who think it's unpatriotic to speak negatively of the home team, much less boo "our boys." History would suggest quite the opposite.
The written record of booing comes from ancient Greece, where playwrights competed at the annual Festival of Dionysia to determine who had written the best tragedy. When the democratic reformer Cleisthenes came to power in the sixth century B.C., audience participation came to be regarded as a civic duty. The "fans" applauded to show approval and shouted and whistled to show displeasure.
The English word boo was first used in the early 19th century to describe the lowing sound that cattle make. Later in the 1800s, the word came to describe the disapproving cry of crowds.
Combining the historical account, full-bodied booing should target the most tragic of large animals. The Bengals come to mind.
Now, to address the issue of high ticket prices giving fans carte blanche to clear their throats. Nice try. Anyone who booed Boeckman would have done so whether OSU charged $6 or $62 to enter the gates. These boo birds consider it their right as paying customers to voice their displeasure for all to hear. If Boeckman hears it, well, he deserved the abuse.
Except he didn't. A college player's poor performance is no basis for booing. They're not kids, but they're not professionals, either, even though they're often treated as such. Save the boos for the Browns, Bengals and Blue Jackets, with whom opportunities to lose your voice will be many.
Rob Oller is a sports reporter for The Dispatch.