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Let’s talk about ‘spoiled’ fans booing the Blackhawks

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Fans at the United Center booed the Blackhawks in the waning moments of a 5-0 loss to the Predators. Can you blame them?

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There’s one word that comes to mind as quickly as any other when people are talking about Blackhawks fans: spoiled. You’ll hear it from opposing fans, media, and even other fans from Chicago. There’s an attitude that the Hawks have been so good to their fans over the years that we should all just be content for now no matter what happens.

Shockingly, sports fans don’t really operate that way. Nobody watches Season 8 of a television show and ignores that it sucks just because Season 2 was really, really good. People are gauging the immediate entertainment value of the product at hand, and you only get so many bonus points for entertainment provided in 2015 when it’s now two years later.

This is something I thought about as you could hear boos raining down from the United Center crowd late in a 5-0 Game 2 loss to the Predators on Saturday night, as if anyone should be surprised people didn’t enjoy paying hundreds of dollars to watch a crappy hockey game. Such spoiled Hawks fans!

The worst fans, clearly, are the ones who care, right? It’s not like those fans in the UC spent hundreds on tickets, parking, and concessions, so they just had the reasonable expectation that anyone else would’ve had: provide an entertaining product, please. The 5-0 loss to the Predators, for one reason or another, didn’t fall into that category. Even Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said he was surprised by how things had gone.

Yes, that’s part of the risk you take as a sports fan. Not every game you attend will be a thriller or a blowout win. That mystery is part of what makes it all so exciting. But every fan should be able to admit they go to these games hoping their team doesn’t totally suck. And when that’s what happens, should anyone really be surprised about expressions of frustration?

Blackhawks fans undeniably expect a lot from their team, and maybe that’s not always easy to live up to. But at the same time, really, that’s the problem? You want fans who are content with mediocrity? Remember the Dollar Bill Wirtz era? There’s a balance to be found between trying to enjoy everything and understanding that it’s okay to want more. Anyone who tells you this season was a waste of time is being hyperbolic, but is it really unreasonable to be frustrated after a 5-0 loss in arguably the biggest game of the season?

So I say let them boo when the time is right. Sometimes things really do stink enough that it’s okay to wail out in disapproval. It’s natural, really. You know those same fans will be cheering out of their pants if things turn around. But the Blackhawks aren’t above frustration at this point. They’re still asking for your money in exchange for a product, and you should want that product to be the best it can be. Sometimes the fans can be spoiled, no doubt, but there’s nothing spoiled about what happened Saturday night.