Opinion: Fans Need To Recruit A New Identity

Spanning the Twitterverse to bring you the constant variety of tweets
The thrill of the retweet and the agony of the unfollow
The human drama of the twitter timeline
This is CadChica’s Wide World of Tworts

Today, I devolved.

I devolved into someone who I never wanted to be. I became one of “those people”. You know who “those people” are. They’re the ones that at this time of year are caught up in all things “National Letter of Intent Day” or “National Signing Day” for college football. How did I get caught up in it? Oy!

I recently began doing some online work for a radio station, publishing an online newspaper. My job entails curating content, writing about and publishing information about their local teams. College football is an important topic around here so I will pay attention to pertinent stories.

Today, a football recruit was set to announce his intentions for accepting a football scholarship. One of the schools he was considering is one of the local schools the radio station covers. And so I found myself doing something I never dreamed of doing: watching his announcement.

Good for him. I will always be happy for a kid who is able to further his education, particularly if it is through a full scholarship. What bothers me is the hype of it all. Maybe not even so much the hype itself but rather, the emotional investment that fans make in a 17 or 18 year-old “kid” choosing “their school”.

Here is an example of a tweet I read earlier. Rather than embedding the tweet in my post like I normally do, I have chosen to protect identities and paraphrased:

Proving the point (reporter) wrote in his article about recruiting, a large group of (school’s) fans                    being completely classless about (recruit)

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a tweet like this over the last week. There have been many, many tweets by fans who get “upset” when a recruit does not choose their school. It is as if fans (not all mind you) have tied their identity to their school’s teams.

Here’s another example. I tweeted something about watching a basketball game and seeing the “older” fans get all excited about a simple basket and foul (i.e. fist-pumping, pointing, arm gestures type of stuff). When I say older, I’m talking in their 50’s and 60’s. Holding nothing back of course, I tweeted that it was “ridiculous”.

It didn’t take long for someone to respond (paraphrasing here):

Those people are probably boosters who pay big money to the school. They have a                                      right to do whatever they want. 

Alrighty then!

Fans, particularly boosters, are free to do whatever they want because of how much money they give to the school. Is that how this works? (Sarcasm font! Where is the sarcasm font?)

I get it. College sports, particularly football, is big business. You will get no argument from me. But when fans are “upset” a recruit doesn’t choose their school or boosters act like fools over a simple “and 1”, the dynamics change.

How? Because these actions make it “personal”. Personal, meaning whatever happens to “your” school, happens directly to “you”. “Your” very identity is wrapped up in whatever happens with “your” school’s sports teams. “Your” team wins the championship, it’s “We Won” or “We Are The Champions”. If “your” team loses a recruit, that recruit “sucked” or “he was no good”. Someone in the media “tweets” something negative about “your” school/team/coach, “you” tell them to STFU or call them a ‘d-bag’ or even tweet at them to ‘go kill yourself’. (Yes, I have seen it. But no, I will not embed them here.)

It is as if a person’s identity is their school or team. As the teams go, so goes their self-worth. If someone attacks or rejects their team, the guns come out a blazing.

I am all for supporting your school or team. I love Arizona and Arizona State. I love the Oakland Raiders. The Seattle Mariners are who I follow in Major League Baseball. I get it. I’m a fan. I’ve been known to, on rare occasion, say “my” team. But I’m not to the point of zealotry with my every waking breath. I like to have a life.

I’ll disagree with an analyst or writer who says or writes something negative but only if there’s no validity to it; or if I know that person “hates my team”. (Where’s that “sarcasm font”?)

Somewhere along the way in sports’ growth, some fans have lost sight that these are, just sports. Perhaps that sounds slightly PollyAnna-ish but when all external factors are removed, they are sports. Should one’s identity be tied up into it all?

With “National Signing Day” or “National Letter of Intent Day” on February 1st, part of me is dreading what the Facebook walls of recruits and schools will look like. I am left to wonder how many recruits will delete their Twitter accounts because of the abuse they received from “fans”.

Let’s hope “fans” are “adult” enough to think before they tweet or post a status to someone. If the recruits can attempt to make an “adult” decision in choosing a school for their education (remember….it’s about education folks), then why can’t fans make an equally “adult-like” decision and wish the recruits the best? Just say no to “devolving” like I did today. 

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TWEET OF THE NIGHT

I will include one actual tweet regarding recruiting that sums it up:

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CadChica Sports

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