What could be better than the mild weather and beautiful colors of fall? It’s football season!!! Whether you enjoy watching your favorite college team or you prefer to follow NFL, football season is a wonderful time for family and friends to gather around the TV with snacks, beer, and high hopes that your favorite team will do what they came on the field to do…WIN!
But what happens when your favorite team/key players don’t do exactly what they are supposed to do? What happens when a football player makes a mistake? What happens when your beloved team loses? As I watched the Sunday afternoon Baltimore Ravens VS Cincinnati Bengals football game, not only was I constantly hearing the criticism of every key player’s every move, I went to Twitter to see what the “fans” were saying. The Bengals were losing 3 to 17, and I wanted to see how true and supportive “fans” actually are. What I saw was really disappointing.
I have posted 5 tweets from fans during the 3rd quarter of the game. The first tweet is a degrading comment made towards Andy Dalton, who is the quarterback for the Bengals. This user calls him a “Ginger Peasant”. To be upset that your favorite quarterback isn’t doing his best is no excuse to make such a superficial stab at his appearance. I always thought of fans as being supportive, and seeing this public tweet that is so disrespectful, really has me wondering how many true fans are out there. This negative comment is clearly directed toward the quarterback as a person rather than just as a quarterback.
The next tweet is from a user who is redirecting his anger and frustration to the referees. In my opinion, this kind of anger is a form of denial. Just because something doesn’t go the way YOU feel it should go, doesn’t give you the right to project your anger onto others. In this particular tweet, this user says he wants to “junk punch” the referees. Why must people make violent threats for no good reason? Furthermore, why are these “sly comments” always overlooked and viewed as “funny”? We see remarks such as this way more often than we should. Whether it is “just talk” or said with intent, comments like this are often dismissed, but also, are often met with violence. There is an ungodly amount of violence associated with sports, and people still tend to take all the threats and rude comments with a grain of salt. It is time to do something about this nonsense. It is becoming more than a rivalry between two teams, it is becoming a war zone.
The third tweet is from a user who was upset with Andy Dalton (Bengals quarterback). This “fan” says that Andy should go sit next to another quarterback (of a rival team) because it is where sub par quarterbacks go to die. Again, with the violent undertone! Athletes are being reduced to disposable pawns on the field. Their identity as human beings is completely degraded, transforming their identity to a profession, or a position in a game. To fail or succeed becomes their identity.
The fourth tweet is actually from a Ravens fan. I incorporated this tweet to highlight the constant, yet unnecessary negativity involved in sports. Saying the Ravens’ offense is “dog shit” tugs at the masculinity of these players, like they aren’t good enough. They are being compared to garbage. Even though they are up 14 points, making a mistake reduces them from men to dog shit?
The last tweet is from a user who is not only upset with the quarterback, referring to him as a “ginger”, but is clearly fascinated by a play from another Bengals player. To express his excitement, he tweets that this player (AJ Green) has silky hands and can give him a hand job. This comment is apparently supposed to be a compliment, but I’ve interpreted it as though he is demasculinizing the player, and simultaneously sexualizing him. His comment may be interpreted as “funny” and “acceptable”, but I have a feeling that if he said the same thing to the player, the reaction would be quite different. Being a woman, my interpretation of the comment was degrading and negative. However, not one person tweeted that they had a problem with his comment. Is this because he is a male referring to another male, but in a non-literal/praising way? Maybe I have over analyzed the comment because I am a woman, but degradation and sexualization should never be acceptable.
The main patterns that I saw in the live tweets about the game were degradation, dehumanization, demasculinization, and violence. It is really unfortunate that so much hatred and negativity is incorporated into being a “fan”, and in sports in general. Essentially, it is a war zone out there, from the stands to the critical commentators to online media. Often times, before sports games begin, the national anthem is played, the military is recognized, or military aircraft fly over the stadium. I have concluded, however, that unity is hardly present in the world of sports.