Editors note: This is the second part of a three part series looking at the ‘boo’ phenomena that has fallen on Formula 1.
In Part 1, we looked at some of the reasons for the booing of Vettel and suggested that the Red Bull management and PR team have to take a fair share of the responsibility for this phenomenon.
Here I intend to examine the lectures being dished out to fans who boo Vettel. Apparently it is unsporting, disrespectful and just bad manners.
The Vettel booing phenomena is scorned and derided by certain high profile figures in the English speaking F1 media. Martin Brundle took on those jeering directly from the podium in Singapore saying “that’s not correct”. Hilariously, Vettel on the same podium used choice language regarding the testicular organs of competitor team members – making Brundle’s intervention for better manners appear all the more silly.
Brundle used his blog on SKY to describe the booing as disgraceful, rude and disrespectful and suggests, “silence would still send the message if desired”. Some may view this as rather a delusional and ill thought out comment.
‘Fake Charlie Whiting’ gave TJ13 a mention on the Formula1blog.com post Singapore roundup after I had challenged him to explain why booing was wrong.
I have no problem with fake twitter celebrities and FCW at times is very pithy and amusing. Yet anyone who sets themselves up as an authority by issuing edicts of condemnation upon others should be able to give a reason for their views.
I had replied to a @SkySportsF1 comment describing the crowd’s behaviour as disgusting and demanding more respect for Vettel. I merely observed, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Clearly less are cheering Seb than boo him. That’s life!!!”
FCW challenged this view stating, “One’s opinion and how one behaves are 2 different things. Booing is rude, boorish behaviour” I asked FCW repeatedly to explain why booing was in breach of some morality code, yet he repeatedly refused to answer but challenged me to defend the booing.
There were a number of exchanges (all available @thejudge13) which culminated in FCW calling me a ‘troll’. Eventually, clutching at straws, he explained jeering was wrong because his mother brought him up to have manners. FCW justified this opinion further because Martin Brundle and other important people believe it is rude, crude and socially unacceptable.
Another representative of TheF1Blog @PaulF1B commented, “Sorry we’re not your cup’o tea I’m pretty proud of what we do especially Civility & Decorum credo” and then proceeded to suggest that those who boo are childish.
Am a missing something? Don’t boo because our morality code says it’s bad manners, whilst at the same time it’s apparently acceptable and ‘civil’ to call someone a troll, boorish, rude and childish. Mmm. Pot and Kettle methinks.
So who the hell decides what is good manners or appropriate? One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist.
Good manners are clearly a subjective issue and depend on from where you hail. I was taught it was good manners to leave my plate clean, yet in some parts of the world this suggests your host has underfed you. We were taught it was rude to make slurping noises at the dinner table but in Japan it is an indication that the food is good.
One day over the summer, I was parched from the heat and gulped down an iced fizzy drink way too quickly; I was in a very public place. The resulting volcanic expulsion of wind made a nearby large dog whimper and gained me a number of scowls and disapproving looks.
Yet in India, Turkey and some Middle Eastern countries and even in parts of China it is considered good manners to burp after a meal. It’s a sign of appreciation and satiety.
I came from humble beginnings and the first time I visited a fairly up-market restaurant, I was confused by the 3 forks, 2 spoons and array of knives set before me. Which fork to use and when??? Of course I now know it’s the one furthest from your plate. Yet in Thai culture you don’t use your fork to put food in your mouth, instead you use a fork to push your food onto your spoon.
I believe a fork in the mouth is a big no no.
F1 is a global sport and travels throughout cultures wide and varied and the question is, which set of manners should we apply and when? Some suggest that swearing down a microphone in front of your hosts and thousands of people in the Middle East certainly would fit the ‘not to be done here’ manners category.
Respect where respect is due
There have been a number of comments to the effect that Vettel’s achievements demand respect and therefore the booing is disrespectful.
Horner again this week appears to be unable to resist the
fork foot in the mouth syndrome when offering his views on why Sebastian is jeered. The Red Bull team principal tells the German media, “It is the same as the people who watched Muhammed Ali and wanted to see him lose,”
There are two problems with this analogy. The first is that Mohammed Ali was deliberately a most public, provocative character and highly charismatic. Sebastian is neither. Horner is alluding to the fact the dominant winners attract this kind of behaviour and clearly wishes us to believe it is this domination that is causing the booing.
This old chestnut has been debated ad nauseum. It was covered in Part 1 and discussed at length in the comments.
The second problem with the Horner analogy is that Ali put his life on the line, taking punches equivalent to being hit with a full swing of a sledgehammer merely covered by a skin of leather. The phrase ‘punch drunk’ depicts exactly the nature of this physical exchange, and Ali had some big fights where he was knocked senseless even when winning.
Formula 1 drivers are fairly tired at the end of a race like Singapore, but for a variety of reasons we no longer observe drivers so exhausted they have to be lifted from their cars or collapsing on the podium.
Its interesting to hear the younger F1 fans who marvel at the risk the modern drivers are taking. It’s as though the concept of what it was like to race in the 1950’s or 1960’s isn’t real to them. Thankfully, the chance of an F1 driver being maimed or killed is negligible in the 21st century.
Yet, when F1 drivers took their lives in their hands for the love of what they did, mortal respect was afforded to all for their bravery and courage. Now we admire the lightning reactions, desire to win and honed skills at the wheel of machines which are on the whole fairly safe.
Vettel is a modern master, but does he deserve universal respect? If so why? For being brilliant, dedicated and ruthless in his pursuit of victory?
Albert Einstein said, “Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized”. The point being that everyone is flawed and therefore open to critique.
I was sat at Stowe corner in 1999 when Schumacher crashed out and broke his leg. The crowd around me cheered wildly. Apparently, this was seen all around the circuit on the large screens live and solicited a similar response.
Yet when it was clear Schumacher may be seriously injured, there was generally a silence, and people dropped their voices to speak. As Michael was loaded onto the ambulance there was polite and respectful applause which continued as the vehicle passed the various sections of the crowd on the way to the medical centre.
In these moments, Schumacher was afforded respect as a human being by the British crowd, but not as a racer. Jeering and booing does not mean those indulging have no respect.
Respect is offered to sports stars by the watching masses for presenting something more complete than just the brilliance of a dominant competitor.
The Oxford English Dictionary can have the final word on this matter. It defines respect as follows, “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
Clearly the F1 self appointed morality police respect Vettel freely for his achievements and many of his qualities, yet is it not arrogant they use their platform or even experience to demand that all share their views?
People are entitled to question Vettel’s qualities and his own respect of others; and on this issue there is indeed evidence the young German champion is short of the exceptionally high standards he demonstrates in his abilities and achievements.
Who says an F1 fan cannot grant respect for Vettel’s achievements – even if grudgingly – whilst holding and expressing an attitude of disapproval for other aspects of his existence?
It’s most probable that by making such a big deal over the booing of Vettel, the self righteous lambasting the fans responsible merely serves to stir a rebellious anti-establishment attitude in fans who then persist all the more.
In Part 3, We’ll conclude our look at booing and jeering and offer Red Bull and Sebastian some advice on how they can win over the fans.