… Mid-January with “Signing Day” fast approaching officially kicks off “mating season” for the over-caffeinated goony birds in the sports fan message board world… These cyber Star Trek conventions are a curious by-product of technology and man’s basic instinct to hide behind a tree and make whoopee cushion noise with his armpits … BobLee takes a lighthearted look see at these odd little beasts … it’s actually not ALL bad!
On BobLee ALIVE! speaking gigs, I usually draw a question or two that is a John Daly tee shot BEYOND “Left field”. It could be the old favorite “doesn’t Chuck Amato have direct ties to the Mafia?” to “how did that darned Dickie Baddour cause UNC to lose to Santa Clara?” If the question is totally unfounded in facts and lacks the slightest tinge of credibility, I ask the inquirer which “message board” he got it from.
I used to ask my audiences “how many of you visit internet fan boards?” I could have asked “how many of you are wearing your spouses’ underwear today?” No one in a roomful of people is going to answer yes to either question. A very small % of any school’s fan base actually visit these websites. Of the fans who do, an even smaller % actively post comments on them.
Like Libertarians and Montreal Expo season ticket holders … there simply are not enough of’em to be concerned with. Coaches and ADs that bother to monitor their websites would be better served tracking volcanic eruptions on the Planet Neptune. “If a tree falls in the woods and only hits a message board loon, does it matter?” … nope.
Here’s an exercise for you. You are in Kenan Stadium or “The Carter” or Bryant Denny or William Brice, etc. on a Fall Gameday, the stands are full of 50,000+ supporters of the home team. Form your thumb and index finger into a circle (the OK sign) … hold that circle 12” in front of your dominant eye and look through it at the fans across the field … What you see inside the circle is the population of even the most popular fan board. Now draw your circle down to the size of a dime and move it 6” further from your eye … there’s the size within that population that actually posts comments supposedly representing “all/most/abuncha/typical fans of XYZ school”.
Now look how many fans are NOT inside either circle with no involvement whatsoever with these forums or their kooky conspiratorial rant-athons.
NOTE: Don’t try this exercise at Duke’s Wallace Wade. You need a minimum stadium attendance of 5,000 for it to work.
Websites hosting these fan participation forums like to claim monster memberships (like Zogby predicting a Kerry landslide!). Even the most popular sites are dominated by less than 50 members posting 90% of the comments. Keep that in mind when some tin-foil hat wearing wuzzle writes:
“Let’s ALL meet at the Student Union at noon and DEMAND that
‘dumm Chancellor’ admit JuCo “phenoms” with less than 8 felony arrests”.
That Che Guevarra wannabe is likely a 16 y/o hiding in his closet with his Daddy’s laptop checking out the bra ads in a JC Penney catalogue
… or, even scarier,
a “George Costanza” (45 year old “little league rightfielder” with not so latent sociopathetic urges) … explaining their intense dislike of administrative authority figures especially Athletics Directors.
We are not talking about Fantasy Leagues. Most of those devotees realize they are called “fantasy” leagues for a reason. The “mainstream misfits” dominating these forums remind you of a “carnival midway”. You know … you take your family to the fair and are strolling along the midway with your fried snickers and giant turkey leg when it occurs to you. You are surrounded by a much stranger bunch than what is up there on the stage. Why pay $2.00 to see JoJo The Dog-Faced Boy when you are 6’ away from Eddie The 400 lb Auburn Fan wearing a “Death To The BCS” t-shirt with Dale Jr’s #8 tattooed on his forehead.
If you visit one of these fan forums, use the carnival midway analogy and you won’t completely give up hope for mankind. What’s the first thing you do when you get home from the fair? Leave your clothes and shoes outside to be boiled with lye soap and Mom powerwashes the entire family so no “carnival cooties” get brought into the house. There are firewalls and special bizarro barriers you can install to do the same to your hard drive.
To be fair to these cyber “Star Trek Conventions” of hyper knuckleheads … there is nothing wrong with being a “Trekkie”. You enjoy sci-fi and like getting together with like-minded folks. You tape on a pair of Spock ears, slip into your Starship Enterprise pajamas and pay $10 to attend a Trekkie Convention at the Holiday Inn out on the bypass. Some fella claims he has nekkid pictures of Lt. Uhuru. Another guy has documented proof he is “Scotty’s nephew twice removed”.
Banter about favorite episodes, play trivia and visit the “swap table” trading your Captain Kirk lunchbox for an Official Klingon keychain. You go home, change clothes and mow the grass trying not to think about that quarterly sales report the home office expects to be faxed in by 10 AM Monday. That’s all fine. The problems come with those folks that use superglue and staples to attach their Spock ears. Thems the scary ones you need to watch out for!
Transfer all the obvious analogies between Trekkie Conventions and these fan forums. Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy thank the syndication gods every day that there are hardcore trekkies out there. So, to a degree, are ADs and Coaches appreciative of hardcore passionate fans. Those merchandise sales and ticket sales are important. Unfortunately a high % of the loonies with the superglued and stapled Spock ears do NOT join booster clubs nor do they buy tickets. The “George Costanzas” and “the 16 y/o pervs in the closet” pretty much avoid in-person contact suffering from extreme “normalfolkaphobia”.
…These folks thrive best hiding behind a keyboard typing out “I HATE our AD, our FB and/or BB Coach, “that other school”, the local sportswriters, the BCS Committee, referees, and, of course, Dick Vitale”.
I get asked a lot “do you recommend normal people visit these sites?”. I always say “yes”. You can validate something you have always sort of figured. That: You ARE a lot smarter than some other people. Be warned … if you stay longer than 15 minutes you risk becoming “one of those people you used to be smarter than”. And don’t forget to scrub your monitor w/ that lye soap.
“Captain Kirk” and Mrs Richie Sambora starred in which TV series?
“Tango’s sister” was Lois Lane and now lives on Wisteria Lane where Nicco hates her and the mysterious plumber likes her. Her picture wrapped in Superman’s cape set records for Internet downloads in the early 90s.
A Swagger TV recommend … Boston Legal on Sunday night at 10 PM w/ Shatner, James Spader, a host of hotties and now “Murphy Brown”. Great snappy dialogue by David E Kelly, same guy that wrote LA Law and Allie McBeal. Check it out!
Roy’s Boys are kickin’ butt … Big Test coming up vs Deacs at LJVMC. “At home blow-outs” probably not the best judge if this really is “a special team” … it could be though.
Several asked about Tab Thacker … no, not kin to Jim Thacker … Tab was a former NCSU super heavyweight wrestler and short-lived actor in Police Academy flicks. Last known whereabouts was as “a cooler” at a South Raleigh “Roadhouse”.