11/01/2013 12:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Is It Okay to Boo?


I know, I know, Halloween is here and getting "booed" is all the rage, especially if you live with people under the age of nine. I am a fan of the Halloween kind of boo -- and the candy that goes along with it. But I'd like to banish the boo that happens during the other 51 weeks out of the year. You know -- that boo.

I was at a sporting event recently and overhead several fans using what my mother would call "colorful language." It happens. It happens so often in fact that a reader of mine wrote to me about how to deal with the foul language of others and I wrote a blog offering some advice.

What really surprised me, besides the cost of a lemonade (six bucks!?), was how many parents, while watching the game with their children, were loudly booing the other team. Granted, they weren't swearing, but isn't booing just as bad?

Apparently booing is sort of a tradition and dates back hundreds of years; in those days, your fate of being eaten by a lion or not depended on the crowd's cheers and jeers. Ouch. Or yum. Depending on which side of the booing fence you stand.

Famous athletes and celebrities get booed quite a bit, which is something that seems a bit sad and immature to me. Justin Bieber was booed at an awards show recently and he was less than pleased. I totally get it. He's got enough trouble taking selfies and trying to keep his pants up. The last thing the kid needs is to be booed.

So, if you are not a fan of booing, like me, what do you do when faced with the boo?

I had a few hard and fast rules for my children when they were small. Simple and non-negotiable stuff like don't run in the street and no lying and if I ever hear you boo someone, we leave the event immediately and you, booer, lose the privilege of returning until almost forever. I, for one, cannot stand booing. It borders on bullying, at least in my opinion.

If you are in a booing situation and you are with your children, I recommend you remind them, in private, your stance on this pitiful (my stance) yet commonplace custom. I've never had success with talking to a booer, and as you know I think of myself as a savvy small talker or I wouldn't have made a career out of it. Speaking to fans who are swearing around children seems more palatable than discussing your views on booing. I am not exactly sure why; not that the why really matters.

So, I can't believe I am saying this but -- just this once -- I am suggesting you not small talk your way out of a booing situation. Instead, use an opportunity such as booing at a NFL game to either remind your family of your values or change seats. Either way, you still come out as a winner in the end.