With UFC 101 on its way to Philadelphia this is probably a good time to take a look at the history of booing, the real reasons fans boo, and what to expect when the UFC makes its debut in the town that's most famous for it.
Booing probably began during stage performances in ancient Greece, continued into the gladiator battles of the Roman Empire, and was perfected in the City of Brotherly Love. It's a proud tradition in Philly, where the sports fans are known for the booing of Santa Claus at a 1968 Eagles game. This story is often told without the following important facts; the Eagles were having a terrible season, the last-minute replacement Santa was way too thin, and his red suit was baggy. He deserved every boo he received.
Detractors of the boo often don't understand the actual reasons for booing and sometimes even misunderstand the target of the displeasure. Often times, when it seems to an outsider that a player is being booed, it's actually a general manager or front office being booed for signing a less-expensive, less-talented player when a better option was available. When Anderson Silva and Thales Leites were booed in Montreal, Canada at UFC 97 a lot of the boos we heard were directed at matchmaker Joe Silva for not having the foresight to know that their contrasting styles would stalemate.
Most Philly fans will tell you that booing is less related to poor performances and more a result of poor effort. In a blue collar city where the fans work hard for every dollar they spend on tickets, well-paid athletes better damn well make every attempt to do their job. It's ironic that Silva is on the 101 card and it's very unlikely that we'll see a performance like we saw in the Leites fight. He'll be in the cage with Forrest Griffin who's sure to push the pace and put on an exciting fight for as long as it might last. If they or any other fighter refuses to engage it's likely that they'll hear booing like they've never heard before.
So Philly fans are tough, sure, but as a whole they also have some sense. Under no circumstances is the throwing of projectiles of any kind acceptable to the masses. One moron can ruin the reputation of a lot of good people with a single bad decision and on the rare occasion that someone chooses to cross this line, he usually catches a beating before security arrives. When hockey Hall-of-Famer Mario Lemieux played what was supposed to be his last game as a pro, the Philly faithful gave him a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. He later came out of retirement and was booed heartily when he returned.
This being the debut UFC event for Philadelphia, we can't yet be sure of the reception but if history is any indication it will be a loud one.