Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the “Woo!” during Reds broadcasts from Great American Ballpark. For some reason, this trend has started debates and flared emotions on both sides of the should-they-or-shouldn’t-they aisle. Realistically, I am going to lump your existing support or disdain for the “Woo!” in with politics and religion and assume that a simple blog post won’t do much to change your mind. However, it seems to be a baseball topic of conversation in our town right now and that is exactly what Head First Slide is about, so a post must be written!
As a first step, let’s accurately describe WHAT the “Woo!” is (and is not) so that we may move forward on the same page. The best way to describe the “Woo!” is to compare it to a coyote or small dog bark or yip. It’s not the celebratory “WOO-HOO!” that you may hear after a scoring play or awesome Brandon Phillips highlight gem. While this YouTube clip isn’t the best audio I’ve heard, it seems to be the best that YouTube has to offer on the “Woo!”. It’s a loud, high-pitched yelp modeled after Ric Flair’s scream. Basically, it’s a National Geographic audio file of a pack of wild dogs on the prowl.
What the “Woo!” isn’t, however, is a cheer or rally cry for the team. The “Woo!” appears at random times of the game, although mostly in the later innings for reasons I’ll talk about later. There isn’t an event or accomplishment that starts the “Woo!” unlike the “Funkblast” tweets for home runs or the flames from the PNC Smokestacks for strikeouts. The “Woo!” is random and unpredictable, making it more “nonsense” than encouraging.
How the “Woo!” affects the team, I have no idea. I’m not a club insider and my baseball skills haven’t yet rendered a contract offer that would put me in the clubhouse. I do know that Cincinnati usually doesn’t sell out their ball games and having a few “Woo!”ers makes the stadium sound more empty than it actually is on tv, radio, and in person. I’ve also read that the players REPORTEDLY don’t like the “Woo!” and find it distracting (see Jim Day’s tweet below). On Monday evening, Mo Egger from ESPN1530 and 700WLW tweeted “If I was a free agent, having to listen to jackasses yell “woo” 81 times a year would be a deal-breaker” (@MoEgger1530, April 22nd, 10:22pm). While that is his stance for HIS future Reds baseball contract negotiations, you’d have to think that he’s not far off from actual MLB players if current Reds players frown upon the “Woo!”. Plus, he called the “Woo!”ers jackasses, which is probably fairly accurate.
From Paul Daugherty – “And, please God, can we dispense with the Woooos? This isnt a new topic, but c’mon. It was annoying when it first started occurring last summer. Now, it’s worth ejecting people over. Stop embarrassing yourselves and your city. K?“
The only part I disagree with Paul D. about is a little bit of an admission for me: I used to like the “Woo!”. Last year, when it started, it was something new and different. It was something not forced upon fans by ESPN or some other source. The Reds (to the best of my knowledge, which is based on Reds employees utter displeasure of the “Woo!”) didn’t put it on the scoreboard or hand out fliers of how and when to “Woo!”. It was an organic thing that only Cincinnati did and it was cool… for a few games. That being said, a part of life is moving on and leaving ridiculous things in the past. There’s a decent chance that the “Woo!” could’ve been fondly remembered if it was around for a few games in late 2012 and allowed to die.
It hasn’t died.
Which brings me to my next area of research – why hasn’t it died? The only answer I can come up with is that people enjoy pissing other people off. An easy example would be Monday night as four of us from Head First Slide were at the Reds game in right field. Three of us had already expressed our dislike of the “Woo!” and the fourth was a bit iffy on the topic. I’m not sure if he had ever “Woo!”ed before at a game but when he found out the other three with him didn’t like it, he struck up the “Woo!” support like a campaign manager. It wasn’t because he thought the “Woo!” was good for baseball, the Reds or the fans – he just wanted to push a few buttons with us in the seats next to him and while that is one personal example, it seems like he wasn’t the only one with that mindset. If you actually catch someone over 12 in the act of “Woo!”ing, there’s a good chance this person fits one of these two situations:
1) The person has a beer in one hand and stands up, breathes deep and lets out a series of “Woo!”s, only to sit down and pretend not to revel in the attention that he/she is calling upon him/herself for doing such an act and repeats the process because of the response from the nearby crowd,
2) The person is sitting low in his/her chair with a few friends next to him/her to shield his/her embarrassment and yelps the “Woo!”s quickly, hoping they won’t be identified as “that guy”.
As a part of research, I threw myself on the sword and tried a 2013 “Woo!”. Immediately I felt embarrassed and stupid. I have no idea why anyone would purposely “Woo!” in public unless it is a form of payment for losing a bet. However, if that’s what your buddies make you do for losing a bet, maybe it’s time to find new buddies.
The go-to defense from the “Woo!” supporters I’ve encountered seems to be “Let the ticket-buying fan cheer how they want”. I have multiple issues with this defense. First, as we already covered, the “Woo!” is not a cheer. It’s a yelp. A scream. A wild animal hunting call. It isn’t based on any actions on the field and doesn’t inspire anything from the team. It’s not a cheer. Secondly, people can act how they want, as long as it’s within the rules. I can’t take my pants off at a Reds game under the guise of “this is how I want to cheer”. Screaming needlessly in your neighbors ear should be on that same highway, but I’m not telling you can or cannot do something. I’m just telling you that you are embarrassing yourself, anyone around you, your city, and your team by “Woo!”ing. If you want to embarrass yourself, do it where you don’t drag the city and team into it as well. Thirdly, it doesn’t matter if you bought the most expensive tickets or are paid to go to the game – stupid sounds the same no matter what.
I’m guessing that the “Woo!”ers are a small percentage of the Reds fanbase. To be honest, most “Woo!” supporters on Twitter don’t seem as passionate about saving the “Woo!” as they are about trying to prod (trollollol) anti-”Woo!”ers into heated debates. Most of the more active supporters didn’t pick a side until a Reds employee stated their claim, and they seemed to take the opposite argument “just because”.
At the end of the day, we’re all Reds fans and we’re all supporting the same team. It just seems logical that you would want to support your team in a way that they actually feel supported and not in a way they don’t approve of.
Final Analysis: If you’re older than 12, you should strongly consider ceasing to “Woo!”. You are embarrassing yourself and your city. The players don’t like it. Your neighbors in the stands don’t like it. I’m hoping that this passes in the night along with the rift from around the time of the Brandon Phillips/Joey Votto contract extensions.
UPDATE: A loyal reader has brought the origin of the sports-arena “Woo!” to our attention: Pittsburgh hockey. They didn’t like the Woo! either. Why should we? (Link: http://www.penguinpoop.com/2010/pens-fans-please-stop-the-woo/ )
If you have a dispute to anything in this post, feel free to comment about it below or hit me up on Twitter (@GeoffreyHoman). Just keep it clean because my Mom reads this blog. Hi Mom!