Make a Little Noise

by Michael Schultz on August 19, 2014

Some sports and games are noisy when it comes to the fans – like hockey, football, baseball and basketball. Others, like tennis and golf, tend to be on the quiet side. In fact, “quiet on the tee” or “silence” are the order of the day in tennis and golf.

Golf has increased in fan volume lately with the advent of new fans to the game who don’t necessarily respect the old traditions and want to stir it up a bit.

But how do the players feel? In tennis, the courts vary from tournament to tournament….grass, clay, or hard. It seems that the fan behaviour is also different. What’s worse?….fans constantly cheering, heckling and cajoling….with no end to the barrage OR polite quiet while they prep their shots and riotous applause and shouting when a player wins a point?

Here’s what Andy Murray had to say; ” I think to be honest, players would get used to it if it was kind of loud all the time. It’s just when it’s very quiet  and then someone makes a noise, or when everyone is sitting down and someone stands up behind the court, then it’s off-putting. But if people were moving around all of the time and always making noise, then the players would adjust.”

But players will also tell you that being able to hear is quite important in executing shots…from the type of spin on the ball or how hard it’s coming at them.

All of this is in anticipation of the U.S. Open that begins on August 25h where the tendency is for loud crowds. Some players, like Djokovic, appreciates the contrasting atmospheres on the tour. It seems the U.S. Open is all about entertainment while Wimbledon is all about tradition. Even night games tend to be more boisterous at the Open.

A little lame on the production value but here are the McEnroes talking about the crowds in New York:

It’s Not Easy Being President

by Michael Schultz on August 11, 2014

About a year ago (May 2013) , a journalist with left-leaning Talking Points Memo, named Michael Lester, posted something called “A Brief History of Presidential Heckling”. Sorry I missed it when it first came out. The political aspect of heckling is perhaps the most exciting because I think it is the closest to our social reality and the day-to-day existence we all lead and are affected by. That said, heckling in entertainment and sports is fun too!

As it turns out, Mr. Lester is from Dundee, Scotland which just happens to be where heckling originated – or so we are told. I hope Mr. Lester knows and appreciates that fact. Now he lives in the US and plies his trade in journalism and video.

Joseph Strick’s work in England in the 1960s, which featured the likes of heckling the Prime Minister and other political types, was innovative and new. What Lester presents is good but could certainly be expanded to an entire film format – much in the genre of a Michael Moore production.

The following shows clips dating back as far as the Nixon administration – which is how I found it given recent talk of Watergate in the news. While it’s fun to watch George W. dodge a pair of shoes being thrown at him…or Clinton or Obama standing firm and patiently at the podium ( like some high school principal at an assembly), nothing beats Reagan telling hecklers to zip it up by saying; ”Ah, shut up”.

We can only hope someone expands on this to show just how prevalent heckling really is in the global culture and how it’s dealt with – and of course how it helps to shape free speech while avoiding the act of bullying.

Heckling Tiger Woods

by Michael Schultz on August 10, 2014

Golfer Tiger Woods ( like there’s another Tiger Woods) hasn’t been having the best years of his career since he fell out of public favour with his sexual shenanigans. Tiger seems to have lost his mojo.

A bunch of staffers at USA Today decided to put together a bunch of guffaws and heckles for him out on the links. They’re OK but certainly not dazzling.

Fun and games:

Sarah Kendall’s Worst Heckle

by Michael Schultz on August 4, 2014

Sarah Kendall is an Aussie comic with a huge head of red hair. She does a great send up of countrywoman Nicole Kidman in this piece.

More importantly, she talks about a bad heckling experience she had in Leeds. In fact, she weaves the incident into her routine.

It was early in her career and, as she describes it, the comics went out to a hostile crowd….like soldiers ‘going over the top’ as Kendall describes it. She captures the incident of being crudely heckled quite well.

Here’s the piece and an article from THE GUARDIAN:

Keep your eyes on this up and comer.

Obama – The ‘Anti-Christ’

by Michael Schultz on July 27, 2014

It’s hard enough being the president of the United States without interruptions by people like this.

While in LA recently, Obama was on the podium and met this guy yelling at him. I suspect there’s not much truth in the heckler’s comments – at least I hope Mr. Obama is not the ‘Anti-Christ’….I mean what would that make Mr. Harper?

The aftermath was true Obama coolness as the heckler is escorted from the throng. He tells the crowd that he has heard the heckler before. Apparently the guy delivered the same message. Perhaps, Obama said, he needs to get some new material. I think so.

Folks in the crowd seemed relieved when the rather outspoken loudmouth is removed. I can’t blame them.

Heckler Etiquette

by Michael Schultz on July 26, 2014

The Toronto Blue Jays are having a pretty good season….riding high in June and securing first place they have slipped back into third but very much in contention….a bit of a dogfight for the American League East.

A few of the fans at the park might contend that they are personally responsible for a few victories due to their merciless heckles launched at visiting players, particularly those in the outfield. Hecklers at the ballpark can find just about anything to heckle about….knee-high socks, sunflower seeds, or even the player’s number. The heckler’s comments are meant to distract the player and cause errors. As one heckler said, ” Baseball is a game of concentration. If you break that for one split second…it’s going to hurt.”

Hecklers don’t go unpunished. That said, ejections of unruly fans are down from last season in Toronto apparently.Interestingly, “heckling” is not found in the code of conduct. At the same time, obscene gestures and abusive or foul language are not tolerated and offenders may find themselves watching from outside the park.

One of the fan-based problems related to heckling is that there are many first-time people attending games who may not have a grasp of ballpark etiquette. This happened in golf when Tiger emerged and drew in a whole new demographic to the game. With the Jays poised to take a run at the playoffs, fans in Toronto are hungry for an opportunity to experience the elation associated with a winning team.

It would be a shame if Toronto became famous for its ‘boorish fans’ rather than the home team’s prowess on the field. Toronto has had a reputation of quiet and conservative fans…times have changed.



by Michael Schultz on July 17, 2014

Even the best and biggest stars get questioned and heckled. All-star New York Yankee baseball player Derek Jeter was heckled at the all-star game recently.

Some fan kept yelling “overrated”. Jeter, like the pro that he is, responded with a solid whack into right field for a double.

Hecklers are often surprised by the results of their outcries….they may just be what the performer is looking for to awaken them and  to spur them on to greatness!

“Ford draws cheers and jeers in raucous debate.”

by Michael Schultz on July 16, 2014

Sounds like pure entertainment. That’s the headline from last night’s mayoralty debate in the Toronto area. Freshly back from rehab, Mr. Rob Ford stands his ground and makes Toronto politics anything but boring. The newspaper reported that,” …it was Mr. Ford who provoked the biggest response, including noisy interjections and heckling.” Anything but dull.

Here’s a look at the proceedings:

Anyways – I’m back from a little summer sojourn and apparently so is Rob Ford.

Oh No , They’re Heckling…………

by Michael Schultz on June 19, 2014

Here’s Rick Mercer on his show featuring the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team. It’s part Damn Yankees, part Bull Durham, all hilarious.

First he gets booed in the bullpen as he learns to throw out the opening pitch.

Then as he heads to the mound that evening he can feel voice of the fans and he says; “Oh no, they’re heckling.”

An enjoyable piece of baseball, heckling and Canadiana:


Isn’t Democracy Wonderful? or Sometimes the Bubble Needs Puncturing……

by Michael Schultz on June 19, 2014

Neil Honeyman makes a couple of excellent points in this article from Sun Star. He points out the benefits of heckling from George Bush in 2003 to life in the Philippines, to happenings in Australia. Heckling is alive ad well and serving a real purpose. I particularly like his idea that when leaders and people in authority act as though they are in a ‘bubble’ – that bubble may need to be punctured – heckling can do that.

By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

HECKLING, that is interrupting a public speaker with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse, has been a manifestation of genuine democracies for hundreds of years. To heckle attained its present meaning in the mid-17th century when there was much to heckle about.

In 2003, the United States of America (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) invaded Iraq, without United Nations agreement. The invasion was justified at the time by intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and could use them. Not everyone believed this. The non-believers were later proved correct. In late 2003, the US President George W. Bush visited the UK where he was greeted with much heckling about the Iraq war. He did not take offense. He beamed at his hecklers and said ‘Isn’t democracy wonderful!’

Not yet in the Philippines.

Last Thursday, while President Aquino was giving his Independence Day speech at Naga City, a college student standing 45 meters away from the stage at Plaza Quince Martires started shouting “Free Benito Tiamzon and all political prisoners and scrap all forms of pork! DAP, Ibasura!”

The student, Pio Mijares, attending Ateneo de Naga University, was quickly taken away by members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

Mijares was charged at the Naga City Prosecutor’s office with “tumults and other disturbances of public order.” He was also charged with “assault against an agent of person in authority.”

I am disappointed.

It is a sign of a mature democracy that any person at any time may express dissent. It is regrettable that the dissent, expressed by Mijares, was suppressed. “Tumults” is a large, confused noise caused by a large mass of people. Mijares did not engender tumults.

Around 500 members of the rights group Karapatan-Bicol held a rally at Naga City but were prevented from getting close to the site where the President was speaking. We agree if the rallyists intended to overwhelm the speech.

Independence Day marks the time when Philippine sovereignty was transferred from the Republic of Spain to the United States of America. This was completed at the Treaty of Paris on 10 December 1898. No Filipino was invited to the treaty negotiations. Is Independence Day really a cause for celebration?

Heckling has useful purposes. Firstly, it causes the speaker to realize that there is an adversarial opinion. Does PNoy know about the Benito Tiamzon case?

Secondly, it can cause the speaker to respond. There is nothing better than a quick and articulate put-down to the heckler by the speaker to cause the crowd to be more supportive of the speaker.

One is left with the impression that PNoy operates in a bubble in which his acolytes endlessly reassure him that everything is fine. Heckling punctures the bubble. Sometimes the bubble needs puncturing.

The Australian government recently unveiled a budget which was not well-received by the populace. Included in the unpopular items was a significant increase in tertiary education fees. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop went to the University of Sydney to explain the reason for the fee hikes. She was jostled and heckled. On camera at least she seemed to accept the angry students’ protest to hazards of the trade and smiled benignly. There were no arrests of the unruly students.

We wish the PSG would not intervene until and unless PNoy is in physical danger.