Booing does not help someone perform better. Yet Philadelphians boo their teams and players constantly, at the drop of a hat. You could call it being passionate and die-hard, I call it being fickle and selfish.
I have railed against our proclivity to boo before, but I am going expand on that, because not all boos are created equal. Some are acceptable, and some are not.
Level 0: Booing opposing teams, players, and fans
Not even open for debate. Something Philadelphians excel at.
Level 1: Booing for lack of effort
This is totally acceptable, and something I am proud of Philadelphians for. We do not tolerate a lack of hustle, or even a supposed lack of hustle. This comes up most often in baseball, where players like Mike Schmidt and Bobby Abreu, both all-stars, never really fit in because of their supposed lack of hustle (in truth, the game just came naturally to them, they made it look easy).
Best example: Booing Freddy Garcia for not running to first on a groundball. After the game he said his job was to pitch, and I knew right then and there Freddy would never do his job in Philadelphia again.
Level 2: Booing for failure to do one's job
Fans take some things in sports for granted: chip-shot field goals and sacrifice bunts both come to mind. When a player is unable to do what we believe is easy, we will boo that player. If Chris Coste cannot get the runner to second because he popped up his bunt, we will boo him for that. Will it get him to bunt better next time? No. But this is a boo out of frustration, and although not very supportive, I can defend it.
Level 3: Booing a coach's decision
Sending out the punt team? Defensive replacement for Pat Burrell? Yanking the goalie? Boo. It's the coach, not the players fault. I'm sure it doesn't raise the player's spirits, but this one is still okay in my book. Sometimes a boo is used to send a message, and this can be one of those times.
Level 4: Booing a player or team's failure
When the Eagles can't convert on 4th and 1, or the Flyers give up back-to-back goals, the fans are going to boo. They are upset, angry, and second-and-third-guessing the coach all at once. The only way to express all that is going on in their hearts, heads, and guts, is to let out a deep, resonating BOOOOOOO!!!!! as the players put their heads down and shuffle off the field. Is it effective? Not in the least. Does it make the players tighten up and worry about failure more than they should? Probably. Is it our God-given right as paying sports fans who haven't won a championship in 20-odd years? I guess so. Should we continue to do it? Only if we want to continue to be paying sports fans who haven't won a championship in 30-odd years.
Level 5: Booing a tragic flaw
This, to me, is the big one. It's probably the loudest, longest-lasting boo, and the one that can make anyone - player or fan - sick to their stomach. It's the culmination of an entire season, or seasons, or lifetime, and it's the boo of the tragic flaw. Typically this boo comes out late in the season, when one of our teams is about to blow a game in the way we all knew they would.
Ex: The Phillies have no situational hitting and get shut down by quality pitching. Picture a late September game against the Mets. Our pitching staff has hung in there, giving up 1 run over 7 innings. We are facing Johan Santana, and have managed plenty of double plays and strike outs, but no actual runs. Then we get runners on first and second with no outs. Top of the order up, J-Roll, first pitch groundout, Victorino, goes down swinging, Utley, takes a strike, then pops up to second.
Wait for it.....
.....aaaaaaaaaaand here come the boos.
Now I put this as number 5 because it's probably the most damaging boo on our psyche. This is not a boo you want to take lightly. Am I guilty of it? Not yet, but I could be. This boo is in our nature, and I can't say I defend it, but I understand.
Level off the charts: Booing someone because they aren't someone else.
This occurs when fans believe somebody else should be walking up to the batter's box, or coming into a game for a save situation. Fans are basically saying 'we wish you were someone else, so regardless of how hard you work or how good you are/were/can be, we are going to boo you because of a manager/coach's decision.
Best example: Booing Donovan McNabb at the NFL Draft. We wanted Ricky Williams, we didn't get him. Possibly my least proud moment as a Philadelphia sports fan.
This one also gets to what J-Roll was saying...how can a fan possibly boo somebody on Opening Day? Let alone draft day?
I am proud of Philadelphia sports fans, most of the time. But I will never understand how one can claim to support their team one moment and then boo the hell out of them the next.