More than any other topic, I would wager that fan behavior , or at least fan enthusiasm, is among the most talked about on this here site. Whether it be giving another team’s fans the dreaded “T-shirt” moniker, or lambasting our own for caring more about standing around in a parking lot than cheering on their Top 10 team, I’ve always appreciated how we refuse to wear blinders even if it means hurting our own cause. However, I read a couple of items today that made me stop and reconsider the fine line between “passion” and “pathological obsession” when it comes to cheering on your team.
First was this article by SI.com’s Jeff Pearlman. Now, I like Pearlman ok – he gets a little Mets-y from time to time and has a bigger Keith Hernandez boner than even Jerry Seinfeld – but he’s usually pretty spot on. And he introduced the world to Charles Haley’s dong-whipping locker room behavior in one of the greatest sports related literary achievements of our time, Boys Will Be Boys, so for that I will forever be grateful. And while his article raises a few decent points – why do we REALLY get so angry over sporting events? – it eventually just dissolves into an accidental commentary on the internet and how being able to anonymously muckrake someone has given folks a sense of empowerment that they never would’ve had 20 years ago. Honestly though, what would the internet be without the blogosphere and the ability to knock Baylor fans and their disastrous fanbase while sitting 100 miles up the road behind a computer screen? The fact that I get at least a post a month entitled, “Lessons in SMU Hate,” that’s based almost entirely on fictional facts and opinions should tell you all you need to know about the state of idiocracy the internet has created.
But then I read this over at the Eastern Bloc, and thought, “You know, maybe Pearlman is right? Maybe we have taken it a bit too far?” I won’t get into the particulars too much here - wouldn’t want to steal their bandwidth and incite another war now would I? – but it’s pretty hilariously appalling stuff, involving perhaps the least likely target of TCU fan ire imaginable. There is definitely "good crazy" fan behavior and "bad crazy" fan behavior, and calling out one of our own players and basically calling them an asshole clearly falls squarely in the latter.
Certainly, though, good crazy behavior is acceptable, and the problem is I don't think Pearlman understands how to discern between the two.
I think that if we ever really sat back and listened to ourselves and others around us during a game, or especially considered how much company time we waste reading and writing this site, we’d probably be pretty shocked at what we saw. But to that end, it still rarely goes beyond the point of being out of control, and certainly shouldn't be deemed as bad fan behavior, at least in relation to our own fans. Gameday is the one day that we can separate ourselves from our daily lives and unleash a week’s worth of work related fury onto a suspecting but always not quite prepared opponent. I can distinctly remember the inherent joy WWHD and I experienced during the Stanford game two years ago, elbowing our way to the front row of the student section so that we could harass that receiver – I do not distinctly remember his name – of theirs who ripped on the Frogs and how we more or less convinced ourselves we were responsible for that victory in the rain. And the fact that the Section V Army is going to be literally one section removed from the Baylor crew on September 18th is almost enough to make me think I would skip the first two games in order to get to that one sooner. Almost, mind you.
Pearlman talks a big game, but the bottom line is he can’t handle the anonymously derisive attention he receives, despite getting paid handsomely to pen only a couple of articles a week under the presumptuously punny heading "Pearls of Wisdom." But isn't irrationally supporting your team to the point of insanity EXACTLY what being a fan is all about? Not that Pearlman should have to deal with violent emails, but he should certainly be ready for any criticisms he may receive, just like anyone else with a job would expect if a client assumed they were performing poorly. Judging by the fact that we recently led a bit of a coup against Pearlman's colleague at SI Stewart Mandel makes me feel like we're all on the same page on this one. So rest assured, Frog Fans, no matter what Pearlman and his kind say, irrational fan behavior is completely acceptable and even honorable in some cases - just as long as it's not directed towards players on your own team. Go Frogs.