So it’s “Who” not “Hoot.” I bring this up because I was at a football game the other day where the team mascot is an Owl and people frequently say, “Hoot! Hoot!” I keep pointing out that it’s “Who” and I even try to model proper supportive fan behavior.
Example One: Announcer, “And that was Number 43 scoring for the Owls.” Me: “Who!?!” Adjacent Fan: “Number 43.” Me: “Who!?!”
Example Two: Announcer, “A remarkable carry by Number 12 for the Owls.” Me: “Who!?!” Adjacent Fan: “Number 12.” Me: “Who!?!” Adjacent Fan: “One more time with the ‘Who’ and you’ll find out.” Me: “Who………………………..t”
I suppose, beyond the lack of fluency in Owl diction, what surprised me most at the game was the presence of so many critical “fans.” I put the word in quotation marks because it seems to me that “fans” would be more supportive. Perhaps I should call the critical ones “spectators” but that would mean that they just watched the game and, trust me, these folks do way more than watch.
What they do is monitor any misstep on the part of the refs or the opposition players or, if their team is doing badly, the aforementioned Owls (as in, their own players). Then, poised with poison, they hurl epithets with an accuracy and completion percentage any quarterback would envy.
Those epithets are not only flung with precision, they are linguistic cudgels–the kind of language you hope you will never find splattered on your spirit. All of this, mind you, at a college football game that, at the end of the day, amounts to no (zero, none, nada) eternal (and very little even temporal) consequence.
Sadly, though, this sometimes reminds me of churches. Larry Burkett’s hoped for “Safest Place on Earth,” is often anything but, because the home team’s “fans” can’t quite get this “fan” thing down. Tiptoe through the Scriptures and absorb the very many ways that the biblical authors addressed the paramount need to (in the Apostle Paul’s words) “speak the truth in love.” Yet we hurl critique with the best of them…and usually at our own team…and often with nuclear effect (not to mention fallout).
I wonder about this even as I know that I can tend toward critique myself. I know that there are times when we all need that relational-investment-based, love-motivated, gently worded “wound from a friend” (Prov. 27:6). But can it really be that, in our verbal quiver, the “wound” arrows so outnumber the “encourage” arrows?
I sincerely hope not. We need to work to find genuine words of truthful affirmation. To not speak unless we know that the end result of our words will be to build up and not discourage.
It’s up to me…and you.
“Who!?!” You (and me), that’s who. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
© All rights reserved. Scripture quotations from the NIV.