Brazil boos its opponents. Is it too much?

Brazil pounds the medal podium at the 2012 Games/Ed Chan,

If you watched the just-concluded Olympics, especially any event featuring a Brazilian team, you’ve seen and heard them.

Loud, excited, raucous, and enthusiastic fans. Singing, dancing, and chanting throughout the entire event.

Sometimes, it seems their celebrations are what many would call disrespectful or over-the-top, especially when it comes to our athletes being booed by the home Brazilian crowd. Most of us have been raised to understand that booing is rude and impolite. Unless you’re from Philadelphia where booing is an art form, but that’s another story.

For example, at the volleyball awards ceremony at the 2012 London Olympics, the Brazilians were still cheering, celebrating loudly and pounding the podium while the USA silver medalists and the Japan bronze medalists were receiving their awards. Americans generally view behavior like that as distasteful and disrespectful.

Brazil celebrates its 2012 volleyball victory -- on the ref stand/Ed Chan,
Brazil celebrates its 2012 volleyball victory — on the ref stand/Ed Chan,

There are obviously cultural differences between Brazil and the U.S., so we turned to the NVL’s Brazilian stars Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima and Raquel Ferreira, who have both competed professionally in both Brazil and the U.S.

“I think the biggest thing is that the Brazilians wear their hearts on their sleeves,” said Piantadosi-Lima, who played in college at Louisiana-Lafayette. “More than anything else they want our athletes to be successful.”

Ferreira was an NAIA All-American at Concordia in Irvine, Calif.

“The Brazilians and the Latino culture in general are known for being very warm and welcoming,” Ferreira said. “Brazilians are party people and everything is an excuse to celebrate. Exposing your emotions is something that is expected. It’s normal to be emotional and passionate.”

Piantadosi-Lima and Ferreira differ a bit in their attitudes on booing.

“I think booing is part of any sport. Well, except golf,” Piantadosi-Lima said. “I don’t think that it’s meant in a mean way towards their opponents. I don’t think it’s that bad. I think it’s raw and honest. In Brazil, we fight for something for the population to be proud of, because politically speaking, we’ve had so many disappointments.”

Ferreira disagreed.

“In regards to booing opposing teams, I personally don’t like that. I never did. A lot of the newspapers in Brazil are commenting on that, saying that education needs to be improved, and booing is not right.”

However, both agree that the booing isn’t personal, the fans are just trying to support their team any way that they can.

“The culture does not see booing as a negative, it is viewed as a way of supporting their team,” Ferreira said. “Brazilians don’t boo the opposition because they’re bad, it’s a way of showing their support. The fans don’t mean it badly. It’s the excessive passion that they feel.”

Piantadosi-Lima adds: “Growing up, and representing Brazil, I felt like this is a way to show our fans, hey, here’s something we can be proud of. We want to rise up and be a force in something like volleyball. I think that’s where these emotions come from.”