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Twitter and the Exposure to Extreme Fandom

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New The Hockey News: Why I wish the great Nick Lidstrom had retired

New Puck Daddy: on the NHL Awards, and why it’s not just a “happy to be nominated” situation for players. They wanna win

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If you’re interested in my NHL Awards predictions, they’ll be running on Puck Daddy at some point tomorrow before the event starts. And yes, I changed my mind on a few of my picks from the end of the season.

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Okay! I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite some time: Hardcore Fandom. Keep in mind, this is only aimed at those select few who take it too far and too seriously.

I didn’t realize it existed until the birth of twitter, to be honest.

I mean, I knew there were folks who loved their team so much that they might paint their face and spend a bunch of money on a ticket to root for them. I knew there were folks who might name their baby after an old hero, or decorate their rec room in the colors of their favourite squad….but I guess I didn’t realize that they meant it.

Fun fact: every team dives but yours. No really, I just wikipedia'd it. FACT.

Apparently, for some, it’s not in fun. It’s important.

Now, most people are going to read this and go, “yeah man, those (Insert City) fans are the worst,” or at the very least think their fanbase is slightly more reasonable than whoevers, but I assure you, that’s not the case. None of them are without their crazies.

This isn’t a pity cry because some people yelled at me on Twitter, or me on my high horse judging people who genuinely care about a sports team, I’m just sharing what I’ve learned.

It’s not even close to everybody – the majority of fans are reasonable, but they’re not the ones who chime in and speak on forums like twitter and comment sections. When you agree with an argument, you just sort of think “sure, good point,” and move on. When ardent fans disagree, it becomes a seething tirade that generalizes another entire city.

I am a “fan” of the New York Islanders (I’d prefer to see them win over any other team). But I assure you, I’m aware that they’ve been very, very bad for a very long time now. I really don’t think I let my preference for that team get in the way about how I discuss them and their players. Some fans on twitter and comment sections and chat forums, for reasons beyond me, are not able to separate their rooting interests from reality.

I apologize in advance for the upcoming rant, but after a season of hearing this stuff, I need to address words that I hate that “Hardcore Fans” use to describe their opponents’ players – these terms, to me, make the accuser come off looking immature, oblivious, unreasonable and far too serious about a game. In fact, they make me uncomfortable:

Cry/cries/crierThis one is most often thrown at Sidney Crosby, a player more targeted than any other in the league, who’s involved in more offensive-plays-per-game than any other, who has the puck more often than anyone else in the danger areas, etc. It was the same with Gretzky – the guys who take the most abuse because they’re great and complain about it (like everyone else), get the label.

But beyond Sid, the accusation itself is so elementary school, so petty. To generalize a group of men with that word from home is just so feeble. ….Walk into their dressing room and drop that on them, I assure you we’ll find out who’s in tears before that day is over. (The following paragraphs also applies to the phrase “whines.”)

This stuff is funny, don't get me wrong - but if you really believe it, it gets sad.

Dives/diverThere are a very few players in the league who consistently dive, and we know who they are. Beyond that, everyone occasionally embellishes to get a call. There is no team in the league who has a collective plan to dive, I promise you that.

The reason I hate this one so, so much, is because it’s an out for fans. Some people seem to genuinely believe their guys NEVER actually deserve penalties. There are plenty of times on the bench as a teammate  where you go “oh fuck Smitty, you can’t hook him there,” and you go out and kill it. You understand that your guys, just like their guys, are fighting for inches.

So why can’t the hardcore at home understand that? And further, why should penalties always even out in a game? Sometimes one team took a lot more penalties than the other, legitimately. I’ve heard stuff like “of course they won, they had five powerplays to our one!”  ……YA. Because your team took more penalties which is bad.

Class/classy“Real classy Philadelphia.” “Show some class, Boston.” “Classy as always, Vancouver.”

I hate this shit.

Heyyy, lookit the pic I found on Google images...

The team-coloured glasses so many people view games through makes them oblivious to what goes on during the course of a hockey game. While we’re not here to discuss one incident (seriously, do not comment on this): Burrows biting Bergeron was not a classy move. Lapierre running with it was not classy. Recchi being a 43 year old vet and not being able to move on from it wasn’t classy. Lucic snapping out and dragging it out was not classy.

Yet each fanbase found cause to ding the other one on class-factor, and where they lose out, they find a “yeah but they….” I swear it’s like refereeing gym class with 12 year olds.

The deck of cards that is players and teams get shuffled, mixed and swapped every year, yet somehow one team constantly stays classy and the others maintain a reputation? Nahsomuch.

Let me end the rant on that stuff by reminding you – the sweeping majority of fans are reasonable folks, have been supportive of my work, and I appreciate each and every day I post an article and don’t fret about how it will be received. I have no problem with people reasonably disagreeing, as readers have been doing on this site, specifically, for years now.

Photo evidence that all the Washington Capitals are clearly whining classless divers. ...or something.

But the name-calling, dismissive bullshit really made me turn colour a few times this year.

I think we’re still learning how to interact with people online, and especially when it comes to writers - for years, they were just words in the paper, and if you disagreed, that was that. The columnist never had the opportunity to learn your take or discuss it. So, when readers finally did have that opportunity, they came out with flamethrowers to make their point.

It doesn’t have to be that way, for one, and two, you need to understand that hockey players don’t come to your team and change. There’s a draft, there are trades, and it’s mostly random chance. You likely have guys that complain, or embellish, or whatever it is you hate about City A as much as the next team.

Just enjoy the damn game. Root for your boys. Tell me why you disagree with my opinions.

This rant doesn’t mean don’t love sports, don’t love your team, don’t discuss them with passion. I’m just saying that just because I think Daniel Sedin should win the Hart and you think it should be Corey Perry doesn’t make me a drunk, oblivious moron who doesn’t know shit about hockey.

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Yayyyyy, that was fun, wasn’t it? I’ve been planning on writing that since about day one of playoffs, but there was always something a little more important to discuss.

Hope you enjoy the Awards show – I’ll be writing about it Thursday for Puck Daddy and over here.

Comments

36 Responses to “Twitter and the Exposure to Extreme Fandom”
  1. talkendo says:

    “I think Daniel Sedin should win the Hart and you think it should be Corey Perry ”

    You’re both wrong. St. Louis in a walk. Jeez, get a clue, Bourne. ;P

    Seriously, the two grafs about LEARNING how to interact? YES YES. 10 hundred thousand times, yes.

    It was a great season, even if my Hawks didn’t reapeat.

    Let’s do it again next year!

  2. Karina (@gottabe_KD) says:

    Great post. I get extremely annoyed at fans all the time, but noone annoys me nearly as much as the fans of my own team. The rhetoric thrown about by fans – and by some media – in these past playoffs, especially the Final, made it seem like extreme fans had a megaphone.

  3. andy says:

    i. love. you.

    or this particular column.
    either way.

    im usually left with the impression that ‘hardcore fans’ dont actually watch the sport in question.
    maybe they are trying to own the ‘im the biggest fan’ thing. i dont know.
    i dont get it. never will.
    im fine with that.

  4. Reed K says:

    It seems like in every form of discussion, the most ignorant voices are often the loudest. Thank you for screaming some rationality.

  5. jtbourne says:

    Thanks ya’ll. And again, you see how many more reasonable people there are than obnoxious ones, but as Reed mentions, you’re penalized for not yelling it. Ah well. Hopefully we’re learning.

  6. Conan S. says:

    @Reed K It’s because, or at least what I’ve noticed, is that the ignorant think that their point of view is the most correct, so they should spread the word about it.

    Moving on to the whole article, I loved it. Round these parts, we have a lot of new/bandwagon fans for the Caps, so at school and in the stands of Verizon Center, I hear a lot of the stuff mentioned here. Like, if somebody falls down, according to some people, it’s because the guy sucks and thus he “totally” dove. Bottom line is that some people root harder for their teams than others, and take it a bit too seriously, which diminishes the enjoyment of watching the beautiful game. Can’t we all just agree that hockey is a great sport and that people shouldn’t ruin it with their misplaced fandom?

  7. smoboy says:

    So very true, Mr. Bourne. The fans, I get. They’re passionate, sometimes to a fault. it’s when the media chimes in with the name calling and such, that’s when my blood starts to boil. Has journalistic integrity gone by the wayside?

  8. Heather says:

    Praise jaysus! I am so glad someone tackled this topic. I consider myself a hockey fan first, a Canes fan second but I do sometimes struggle in the moment.

    However, in my defense, I’m almost always the one saying/thinking “Um, yes. That was a pretty standard textbook hooking penalty. Sit down by yourself for two minutes and feel shame, Eric Staal. PK unit, DO WORK.” and rolling my eyes while half the crowd around me are SCREAMING that the call was b.s. and “We ALWAYS get jobbed by the refs.”

    And heaven forbid I ever say anything positive about an opposing team or player, lest I get the business from a few redneck “fans” who don’t know jack about the sport but only know they’re supposed to raise their cup of Bud Light and cheer when the goal horn sounds.

    Excellent read, JB.

  9. Gratliff says:

    I honestly don’t know how any two people with different sports leanings can not just immediately start screaming at each other. As a Philly fan, I’m immediately dismissed as a thug, asshole, and heartless savage, when that’s, at most, only 2/3 right. The view for most individual fans is so completely skewed at this point that there’s no correcting it. For 100+ years, people have been raised to hate specific teams with an unapologetic passion. Local sports writers pen articles with literally opposite views of their peers in neighboring cities. By the time the internet came about, we were all in a frothing rage about our respective fandoms and couldn’t wait for someone to talk some shit about our guys so we could tell them just how wrong and terrible they are as people.

    Flyers fans still get shit because of the old Bullies days, as though every other player from the time was just casually escorting orphans across the ice when mean old Dave Schultz came by with a battle ax and started decapitating people. That team was broken up 6 years before I was born, and other fans even younger than me can’t get through a conversation without bringing them up. A Flyers fan brings up Ron Hextall and we have to hear about how his attack on Chelios was a black eye for the game, with no mention of Chelios nearly killing Brian Propp earlier in the series with a blindside elbow because it would hurt the whole “Hextall is a violent criminal” argument. Mike Richards or Dan Carcillo concuss someone and it’s an indictment of all Flyers’ players and fans, when a mere 10 years ago, it was socially acceptable to mock and laugh at Eric Lindros’ broken form on the ice at the hands of The Honorable Scott Stevens.

    I’d wager most other fans are used to the same hyperbole and hypocritical bullshit from other fanbases, and it destroys whatever patient, rational discussions they were ready to have on the subject. So, instead, we get psychotic diatribes about Max Pacioretty being a diving pussy, or Bettman fixing Penguins games. Mix in some nice anonymity, and you’ve got a great big technicolor clusterfuck. Hell, people on CNN and Fox News sites can’t even discuss kids with cancer without some random asshole jumping in to call them whining faggots. So, I don’t see much hope for fixing discourse in the world of sports.

    I guess what I’m saying here is that at least I don’t cheer for a bunch of whiny divers like the mouth breathers in Pittsburgh.

    /ramblin’ man

  10. andy says:

    its funny, the guys i play with who scream about being jobbed by the refs are the ‘superfan’ types…
    coincidence?

  11. NikolaiNYR says:

    Thanks for keeping up with policing your comments, though things don’t often get heated on your site.

    When you write for Puck Daddy, that’s a different story. That site has so much traffic we’re guaranteed more name calling than counter-argument.

    I haven’t had a chance to go back to it today, but I wonder how nasty the responses are going to get for your Lidstrom column today (even though you called him a hockey immortal more than once).
    Regardless, kudos for staking out the controversial ground and holding to it. It would be sad to see Lidstrom beat wide by anybody. I saw Petr Prucha burn him earlier this year (or last year’s playoffs I don’t remember), and Prucha may not be back in the league next year.

    People never like seeing the greats retire when they still hold among the best of what they do, but twilight years don’t always tarnish a reputation.

    Jordan tried harder than anyone to ruin his legacy and when I think of him it isn’t the lost years in a Wizard’s jersey, it’s 6 titles in the six years he played fully in the 90′s, it’s dropping 45 points on my Knicks with the flu and a fever over 100.

  12. Cassie says:

    Everyone has to feel like they belong to something, I guess. For most people, they realize that hockey (or the sport of their choice) is just a game. Others seem to think that it’s like being a part of the mafia or something. The fans that annoy me the most are the blindly loyal ones who never seem to criticize their team, no matter what.

    I can’t even identify with any of that. But then, I’m not really a fan of any one team, despite blogging about one. I started watching hockey with major juniors, so I tend to follow players in the NHL instead of teams in my natural state. Following just one team for 82 games can be far too much for me to take, to be honest.

  13. Julia says:

    Hi Justin!

    Some thoughts here…

    - Loyalty to one team is part of a person’s identity. I don’t really know how it works, but that’s how it is. It’s so fundamentally true to me that I’m a blind fan of a team of a sport I hate (soccer), but I’m not a fan of any team of a sport I love (hockey). My team and national team of that sport are so important to me that I was royally pissed off when you featured a picture of Paul the Octopus picking Germany over Uruguay (and being right, the damned thing), that I didn’t read you for a month. As for my team, I believe they represent nobility and how the game should be played, whereas the classic opponent is dirty and represents everything that’s wrong with soccer. This is all bollocks of course (both teams play roughly the same soccer quality, with seasons being one better than the other), but takes me to the second point.

    - Love for a team involves hate for the opponents, traditional or new. And that hate has mostly one way to be expressed: with words, either from the bleachers or on forums. Both have exactly the same value, but ones are taken by the wind while the others remain (verba volent, scripta mannent said a teacher), so what appears on forums and comments tends to feel, let’s say, shocking, but it’s hardly more than what you can hear sitting in the cheaper seats in an arena. Go often, it’s an interesting exercise.

    - I know I’m brilliantly original (not) saying this, but sports work as a blowoff valve for social tension. It’s always been like that. Mild mannered people transform themselves in yelling monsters, regurgitating insults they’d never tell anyone in their wildest dreams and still, there they are. A side note here is that, having been to soccer games in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, and hockey games in Minnesota, I noted there’s an interest proportion between the price of the tickets, the roughness in the field/rink, and actual danger to the spectators. Cheap tickets: players are safe but watch out for your neck. Expensive tickets: expect blood on the field, but the worst it could happen to you is that you have to wait for the loo. Anyways, going back to what I was saying…

    - I can’t play any hockey, but I’d feel powerful saying someone who makes a living out of playing hockey is inept or inadequate. Whenever I read the degrading things said on athletes, I can’t help but notice:

    a. That usually they’re not on the actual skills to play the game.

    b. That often it sounds like jealousy, for the team not having players as skilled, for the team not having that particular player, for the player having so much himself (money, fame, skill).

    c. That way too often the degrading remarks are about supposed sexual orientation and gender identity, which is soooo unrelated to everything! (A friend went to a Muay Thai championship where the winner used the prize money in a sex change surgery, yeah… and I gave birth to an 8 pound baby without any drugs, so, really, what’s the deal about being feminine? Cindy Crosby and the Sedin Sisters? Please!)

    d. That people feel powerful destroying something, either an athlete’s career or a journalist’s.

    - And finally (yes, even I have ends), there’s that thing with sports journalism. The writer tells it like s/he sees it, but… is that the truth? Most journalistic pieces have a mood: celebratory, pessimistic… so certain facts are highlighted and certain others are left behind. Also sports journalist must explain, usually with a killing deadline (sorry for the pun) and limited amount of words, what just happened out on the ice and maybe, s/he has no idea. Maybe there is information to be known, questions to answer… maybe the game was just a heap of crap. I follow Michael Russo and I remember he was very critical of Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the first game of the 2009-2010 season… turned out Bouchard still had post concussion symptoms and didn’t play for months, so Russo’s piece was, essentially unfair. That doesn’t make Russo a bad writer, just illustrates my example.

    So, to fold this neverending thing: 1. Sports play games with people’s minds. 2. People are frustrated about their lives and go on to vent in sports venue, unfortunately now what they say remains for the world to read on forums, and 3. Sports journalists have a really tough job nobody pays much attention to.

    Regards!

  14. Julia says:

    I hadn’t read Cassie, but those words about blind fans describe me perfectly. I’m mentally unable to criticize my team.

  15. GarthButchers says:

    Great post. Sadly some (most?) main stream sports writers now seem to be adopting the same words that you write about.

  16. Neil C. says:

    YES!! Awesome post Bourne. The “whiner”, “classy”, and “diver” comments are so tedious to listen to, I think it’s generally a mark of somebody who doesn’t actually know that much about what professional hockey is like (or they know and refuse to think rationally about it). “Stay classy” is the worst, it immediately makes me imagine the speaker as a dude listening to Nickelback in a Ford F350 with a picture of Calvin peeing on a Chevy symbol on the back window.

    I think we should find a label other than “hardcore fans” for these people. When I think of hardcore fans I think of guys who know the name of their team’s offensive coordinator, can tell you where 90% of the guys in their farm system played junior, and get pumped when their team drafts an underrated prospect with the 127th pick. The people who complain about Sidney Crosby “crying”, the Canucks refusing to “stay classy”, the Capitals “diving” or having the “worst fans in the league”… in my experience, those are people who have an amazing ability to be really into their team/hockey without knowing much about it (it’s a category that unfortunately includes many of my friends). They think Luongo sucks. They think the worst hit of the year was legal. They get pictures of Crosby crying and put it on their facebook. They think Chara should be in jail for the Pacioretty hit. I can be pretty irrational about the Canucks sometimes, we can all be stupid about our teams, but at least we’re making an effort. For me, hardcore implies authenticity and sacrifice, like being a hardcore mountain climber or a hardcore history lover: the core is ‘hard’ because it’s legit. To me, the fans you’re talking about are just ‘tribal’ fans, they cheer because they can direct their hate/anger/frustration/ego/whatever into cheering for a tribe, theirs is the best no matter what, their rivals are cowards, when they lose it’s blind rage, when they win it’s blind ego, etc., etc. They stop cheering when their team loses (or insist half the players need to be traded) and they suddenly show up wearing full colours and sporting a new flag when they win. We all have a bit of that in us I think, but it’s just one part of our interest in hockey and our teams.

    It’s the tribal fans that create these tedious stories about Sidney/Capitals fans/the Canucks/the ‘choking’ Sharks/etc. Tribal fans hear certain stories repeated and they join in, so all of these stupid little stories get repeated enough that they can say “well if it’s not true, why does everyone say it?” Over the last two months I’ve seriously had grown, reasonable, intelligent people look me in the eye and say “if it’s not true, why do so many people say it?” Nice guys, but not exactly people I would consider ‘hardcore hockey fans’.

  17. minnesotagirl71 says:

    Remember the days on Bourne’s Blog when we would declare our sports hate for players/teams and also choose who we wanted to utilize a free punch in the face opportunity on? (Michelle Bachmann was my punch in the face choice – I bet a lot more people know who she is now.)

    Totally irrational sports hate and seeing the world of sports as good guys vs bad guys can be so much fun, but some folks do get a bit carried away. I rarely read comments on Puck Daddy or some other blog – some of those folks are frightening in their anger.

    I think it is hugely disrespectful to “yell” at someone via Twitter or blog comments. I can’t believe the things that people say to writers, athletes and other famous folks. I have huge respect for writers who are willing to put their thoughts and opinions out there for the world to read. Thanks!

  18. MattyJ says:

    Gratliff, master of the comments section punchline.

    Others have mentioned the media perpetuating this kind of fandom, and I have to call out Drew Remenda, the color commentator for Sharks TV broadcasts. He’s the biggest homer, biggest whiner I’ve ever listened to, and I have Center Ice and watch games from all over the league. His horrible attitude trickles down to the fanbase to the point where I can’t even attend home Sharks games any more. Guaranteed, I’ll want to murder 2-3000 people before the game ends. It breeds a disrespect for the game. Especially at The Shark Tank, you can expect someone to get up and walk in front of you during play at least 25 times during a game. Sometimes it is even arena employees doing it.

    I’ve been to live games in maybe a dozen cities, and nobody is as bad as Sharks fans. It would be an interesting psychological case study. I understand that hockey was a hard sell in the bay area, perhaps the only way to get people to show up was to foster a community of douchebags to sell tickets to.

  19. jtbourne says:

    Neil, you not having your own hockey blog at this point is just bizarre, you have so much to share that’s worthwhile. I fully agree – hardcore is not remotely the right word…tribal makes sense. Start one up, douche. It’s pretty damn cheap(ish).

    Also, Gratliff, minnesotagirl71, hell, everyone – nicely done. This is a conversation in a comments section, not a who can yell the loudest/meanest thing competition like you see at sites with more traffic. Thanks for the input.

  20. ms.conduct says:

    Yeah, but Vancouver really ARE classless diving sacks of shit.

    Also, Cal Clutterbuck is an angel. Go Wild! :)

  21. peter says:

    I agree with you for the most part. I think you are over stating the bit where you say it is alway wrong to criticize an organization as “not classy”, etc.
    There clearly is a culture that management sets forth for any team. That culture indicates what is and isn’t acceptable. The broad street bullies in the 70′s weren’t that way by accident.
    There are clearly coaches and GM’s that are more likely to whine about calls, and team make-ups that are more likely to dive.
    It’s one of the reasons that some teams get widely disliked, some times even despite success.
    If it sounds like I’m talking about Vancouver, I am, but just as one example. There are times when you can criticize the team, not just the players and the acts.

  22. Alanna says:

    There is definitely a population of fans that are just blind to reality. I was at a bar watching one of the playoff games whis year and a bad penalty got called. Interference was called (I don’t remember on who) when actually that guy got tripped. My friend said something like “Oh, when you’re superstar status you get to trip a guy and get him sent to the box?” When I quipped “Yeah, see: Sidnet Crosby slewfoots Ryan Callahan” when some irrational Pens fan from across the bar chimes in “OH WELL IF YOU’RE GOING TO BRING UP CROSBY YOU HAVE TO BRING UP OVECHKIN TOO. REMEMBER HIM BOARDING BRIAN CAMPBELL????”

  23. Alanna says:

    (How the hell did that get posted? I didn’t click anything. Anywho…)
    To which I had to reply “Yeah, and he got suspended for that. Not what we’re talking about right now, but thanks.” Him “Yeah he got suspended, ’cause he’s a goon!” Me: “Yeah, that’s not what we’re talking about right now.” Him: “Oh yeah, because only Crosby commits penalties, RIGHT?!” Dude was not drunk, just hearing what he wanted to hear.
    Jesus.
    Add that mentality to the cajones people develop when they’re safely behind their monitor and you have a recipe for assholery. You have to get good at tuning out the whackos.

  24. Frank says:

    Justin, your rant today is a breath of fresh air…..like a reasonable political commentator on TV who doesn’t think that one political party has all the answers to every problem in the world….wait, do any of those actually exist?

    One thing I find interesting is that when I go to hockey games with guys who played at a high level (major junior or higher)….they may be passionate about their team, but they are more interested in the overall game and will readily call out their team when they do something stupid. The fans that scream at the refs always seem to be people who don’t understand the game.

    I also look at the average professional player and they are playing for “your team” because they are getting paid well, getting quality ice time and appreciation, etc…..they are NOT playing for a specific team because they love that city and the people that live there. Just like all of us readers who work don’t work for our company because we LOVE the company….we get paid well and are happy with the work we do and enjoy the people we work with. If something better comes along….more than likely you will move along just like the average player does. I laugh at fans who get upset when a player “betrays their team” for a better salary and opportunity somewhere else.

  25. noam says:

    “the majority of fans are reasonable” — yes, well, i’m from vancouver, where the fanbase consists solely of teenage girls texting during the games… whether or not they’re being reasonable about it, i don’t know

  26. Julia says:

    Noam, with Ryan Kesler playing for my city’s team even I can turn into a teenage girl!

  27. Dunc says:

    Nice article, totally agree with what you’re saying. That the ‘superfan’ can’t see their team is as bad as any other when it comes to ‘whining’, ‘diving’ and generally being ‘classless’ is quite amusing to me. Every team in the league has the player ‘everyone wants on their team but hates to play against’ just as every team in the league has that guy who says ‘if I don’t make that hit I’m out of the league’. Just the way it is, if only the ranters could see it!
    As for classless, I have a real hard time with that and I’m gonna make an example of Matt Cooke. Matt Cooke the hockey player is probably the poster boy for the behaviour we all loathe and then there is the Cooke Family Foundation of Hope.

  28. Pep says:

    Good article. I honestly believe this was always there, even “back in the day”, but it has exploded exponentially now. What with social media and what passes for journalism these days it jammed down our throat daily as opposed to more behind the scenes and verbal.

    Before I piss anyone off, I like JB’s blogs. What I mean by “journalism” is tv and print media that writes editorials/opinions and “scoops” as opposed to reporting facts. Editorials/Opinions are what blogs are for in my opinion and a number of tv/print media is starting to lose sight of that as they lose watchers/readers to the blogs.

  29. Clare A. says:

    I blame the internet.

    In all seriousness, there seem to be two diametrically opposed trends occurring at the same time with the advent of internet comment boards. 1) People are more than ever before able to only deal with those who have similar opinions. This started to gain traction with talk radio and grew with niche TV news-and-opinion channels like Fox and MSNBC. On comment boards and blogs, people can surround themselves with folks who agree with them 90% of the time and never have to truly hear a dissenting opinion. It reinforces their biases and creates a sense of us (the rational) vs them (the irrational) in everyday life, a sense of “tribal” identity. 2) At the same time, however, there is more and more potential for people to come across strangers from vastly different backgrounds with vastly different viewpoints once they leave the safety of their internet “home” community. And a lot of people seem to have forgotten or never learned how to cope with those differences. Add in internet anonymity, and you get the type of anger that the “tribal” fan exhibits.

    We’ve forgotten that it’s hard work to create a community. You don’t always agree with your next-door neighbors, but they remain part of your life. When you’re face to face and likely to remain so, there’s a social incentive to work it out and get along to some extent. When you’re on the internet, you know that you may never have any contact with this person again, so it’s okay to write things to/about them that you would never say in person.

    There are some fan communities that seem to create open spaces for disagreement, but the more attenuated a blog community is (that is,the lower the percentage of commenters who come back every day), the less likely that is to happen. Strong communities can resist those “tribal” posters and steer the discussion in a productive direction. Weak communities can’t.

    I have another point about the belief that yelling relieves anger (objectively untrue), but this is already too long a post.

  30. HockeyPhool says:

    Nice article, JT. I admit to taunting one of my buddies about “Cindy Crysby”, but just to get a rise out of him.

    Re: your Lidstrom piece at THN: Given that I didn’t watch many of the games he played this season, I still think Lidstrom is likely to have one more season at or near his current level of play – mostly due to his poise and grace as you said. I don’t think it will be anything like Steve Yzerman’s last season with the Wings, or even Adam Foote’s last two seasons with my Avs. That was truly painful to watch.

    I’m not a fan of the Wings, but I do admire Nick Lidstrom. I hope I’m right about his next season. :-)

    I chose to comment here so my thoughts wouldn’t be lost in the sea of stupidity I was reading in the THN comments. :-)

  31. BuckarooClub says:

    I agree with alot of what you’re saying, but I don’t think the titles given to players or cities are always completely unearned. Crosby is a perfect example. Gretzky might have talked to the refs a little bit, but that was about it. Crosby loves to get his nose a little TOO deep where it doesn’t belong. I remember in Gretzky’s bio, he talks about how he avoided fights, and as soon as they happened he looked for the smallest guy on the ice, tied up, and started chatting about Golf. Sidney has the blindside nut punch he threw at Valabik on his resume. Sidney spent almost 3 seasons in the same locker room as Matt Cooke, but when Sid gets a concussion, suddenly HE thinks the league isn’t doing enough about it. I’m not saying Crosby deserves EVERYTHING that gets thrown at him, but he doesn’t do alot to help himself. If he just went out and played the game, it might not be so hard to like the guy.

    Regarding fans and cities, I agree with Gratliff that a Philly fan shouldn’t be ” dismissed as a thug, asshole, and heartless savage” because of how the Broad Street Bullies played 40 years ago. At the same time, when you put the bullies out there with the time they threw snowballs at Santa, JD Drew and the D cell batteries, and the fact the city had an NFL stadium with holding cells and a judge on duty during games, the rep associated with the Philly fanbase isn’t totally unwarranted.

  32. vx inTN says:

    As someone who has refereed Beer League, I can tell you that it is EXACTLY like dealing with a gym full of whiney 12 year olds regardless of the age/race/color/creed/education/religion/upbringing/whatevva when you are in a hockey game. Its like hockey causes everyone to become a different person. And the ex-pros are The Worst. Or I guess I should say that they are The Best at it cause they do the most(by far!), the loudest, and are the most creative at it.

    Nice rant. Keep ‘em coming!

  33. Gratliff says:

    @BuckarooClub – That’s the problem with that logic though. Every major sports city in the country has similar if not worse stories floating around. Santa getting booed happened in 1968 at Franklin Field when my DAD was 5, and yet sports writers can’t start an article on Philly sports without bringing it up as though it’s somehow relevant 33 years later. No mention, of course, about the fact that they pulled some drunk kid to play Santa and that he was actually doing an incredibly boo-worthy job of playing him (by his own admission, no less). The holding cell is a bit harder to deal with because it’s unique, but you’d be hard pressed to use it as proof that Philly fans are worse because it was there. There’s no shortage of fans around the country that wouldn’t be deserving of a holding cell mid-game. As well, it was removed shortly after they built Lincoln Financial Field because it was deemed unnecessary as stadium behavior improved, which should (but never will) serve as an indicator that Eagles fans have calmed down over the last decade. And, of course, the infamous D-cell game was completely unforgivable. It had everything from anti-semitism to assault in it from the fans, but how many people actually did it? It’s presented as though every man, woman, and child in the stadium was armed with batteries to pelt him with as soon as they saw him, when in reality, it was only a handful of terrible people, as it almost always is in those stories, regardless of what city they come out of.

    Do you go after Cleveland sports fans because they threw beer bottles at referees at the end of a Browns game a few years ago? Do we condemn New England fans because they pelt visiting fans with snowballs whenever the Patriots win a home playoff game? (ESPN calls this celebrating because it’s not happening in Philly) How about Pittsburgh fans for cheering for an alleged serial rapist? New Yorkers because a Yankees fan intentionally ran down a Boston fan a while back?

    Those are the kinds of pitfalls that lead to the very things that have been talked about here. Too many snap judgements based on team loyalties, and too many excuses to dismiss other fans because you heard something bad someone once did who had the same favorite team as he does.

  34. Richie says:

    Couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said JB. It’s how it’s always been, there’s just a lot more platforms for the ignorant to shout from on the internet. Remember

    Opinions are like assholes – everyone’s got one (and they’re usually full of shit).

  35. BuckarooClub says:

    @Gratliff – The beer bottles in Cleveland was more an isolated event (The Cuyahoga river catching on fire, however, was a pretty regular thing for a while). You can come up with plenty of reasons to condemn Pats fans without even getting into them throwing snowballs. The whole cheating thing, the way that only white players jerseys sell, Belicheck being a homewrecker. The thing with Pats fans is they’ve only existed for about 13 years now, so hopefully they will figure it out over time. Pittsburgh fans are a group I think really applies to what Justin is saying here, they’ve kinda fed themself (and league feeds it to everyone else) that they are such a “classy” organization. But you’re right, they are cheering for an alleged rapist (is that better then cheering for a convicted dogfighter who also got caught using a fake name to treat his STD?) and they also lead the league in late hits.

    In some ways the ribbing about cities, players, and off field events is what seperates being a fan from being a spectator. Look at any stadium, in any sport, if you just want to watch the game, your view from most of the seats isn’t close to as good as what you’d get watching in high def at home. You go to the game to cheer for team, to experience the energy and excitement, and try to see as much of the game as you can from your nosebleed seat that was all you could afford. I’m a Rangers fan, and while “1940″ might not be the heavy rotation insult it used to be we’ve still got drafting Hugh Jessiman and a grab bag of the worst contracts you’ve even seen to provide rival fans with plenty of ammo. Still, I’ve found that an informed jab from a rival fan leads to a decent conversation and a couple laughs more then anything else.

    While you might not have been alive when all these events happened, it’s still part of the cities heritage and sports history. Don’t run from it, embrace it. Better yet, throw a little something back, if they care enough about hockey to know that much about your teams city, they probably have a little something to share about hockey too.

  36. Dougie says:

    What I can’t stand is the Vancouver media who always look at the glass as half empty…Canucks win President’s trophy…the letdown is coming. Luongo has a huge season…every loss is his fault, as though he is the 5 guys on the powerplay who let one guy walk around them and have the one-on-one breakaway. While most sportswriters can be too much of homers for their local team (see: Chicago) Puck Daddy could have asked any one of Ed Willes, Tony Gallagher, or Jason Botchford to write the Canucks Eulogy and it would have probably been more scathing than the one by Second City Hockey…

    On a different note Justin, the Chilliwack Chiefs are BACK!!!! The WHL left in a scandal, and the minority owners bought the fledgling Quesnel Millionaires and moved them to Chilliwack. Just so happens the Langley Chiefs are under new ownership and changed their name to the Rivermen freeing up CHIEFS hockey to return to Chilliwack!! Talk about your superfans!

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