Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dr. Sportslove, Or How I Learned to Stop Being a Trixie Blarston on the Internet and Love Myself


A little about myself: I am 22 years old, soon to be 23. From roughly 6th grade to about halfway through 9th grade, I generally kept my hair in a style commonly known as 'afro.' It was glorious and hellacious and questionable and tasteful all at once, perfectly befitting the typhoon of prepubescent chagrin known as Middle School. I have been using the internet consistently since roughly the age of 9, which is a bizarre thing to consider. I'm good at reading, writing, and mowing lawns, and I'm as a rule bad at almost* all sports.

For this hindmost reason, I enjoy watching others be good at sports: football, basketball, World's Strongest Man, wrestling (AKA competitive Horsin' Around), Miss America, competitive eating (isn't all eating competitive, at a primal level?), and, of course, Rollerblading. You're lying and simultaneously spitting on your dead ancestors with gingivitis-y saliva if you don't miss rollerblading. I digress.

*-I say "almost" because my backhand in tennis will drive a 6.7cm diameter hole directly through your hopes and dreams, leaving you a crippled mass to question why you ever agreed to this tennis match, idiot


My point, and the point of this particular piece, is this: there comes a separation between those performing an act of athletic/competitive prowess and those spectating said act. Once upon a pre-Internet dream, this separation was very pronounced and understood. "Those people can do a fantastic thing with their minds and bodies, and, though they might sometimes fail at it, I respect them for it nonetheless. Hey, let's go churn butter or whatever people used to do for fun," people used to say, probably.

Now, though, through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et al, the Keyboard Kings have risen, immediate offspring of the Couch Coaches of yore, first of their name. People increasingly feel it is their duty - nay, their Gawrd-given right - to cut down, chew up, and spit on Warriors of Sport(s). "Hey, that man didn't do the thing I wanted him to do! The universe is centered on my own will and happiness, and for this person to fail at an arbitrary recreational event is inexcusable on a level comparable to genocide. I will let him know directly, post-haste!" they say, as flecks of chicken wing launch from their wobbly visages, coating the computer screens and keyboards upon which their fat fingers attempt to type hastily written nuggets of unwarranted vitriol and contempt.

Don't get me wrong. Insofar as interaction with professional athletes is concerned, I wouldn't presume to tell grown adults that they shouldn't/can't interact with other grown adults on the beautifully haunting Internet fairy monster. I disagree wholly with the idea, but hey, whatever loafs your meat, pal. This, by the way, does not apply to sports administrators, against whom I am personally guilty of rallying:
When the matter concerns high school and college athletes, however...well, friend, it appears that we have an issue. So, without further ado, I present to you

The FerGodSakes Fan Guide to Interacting with High School Recruits and College Athletes

Chapter 1

The less you do, the more you do.
Simple as that, you guys. I don't think I should have to explain why you shouldn't be mean online to a 17-year old kid who's trying to make monumental life decisions about both his academic and athletic future while simultaneously dealing with a cornucopia of possible issues - a social life, family turmoil, emotional instability, and everything else that is part of the basic package you get when you order 'Being a Teenager in America.'

After the jump, however, is Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Perhaps, for some unholy reason, you read Chapter 1 and are still thinking, "Yeah, no, I know, don't talk to them, it's not my place, I am but a single unique cog in the infinite cosmos. But still, I'd sure like to say something to these sport-playin' youngins." Fret not! What follows are a few possible scenarios that you, the average moronic sports fan, might encounter regarding a recruit or athlete, along with good and bad examples of how to react in the given situation. Let's begin!

Scenario #1: A highly ranked running back recruit, currently committed to the school you support, had an eventful week, scoring 6 touchdowns in his Friday night game and visiting a children's hospital the next day, so as to give back to the community.
DO: Tweet/message ABOUT the recruit in a show of solidarity, one that demonstrates your understanding of his accomplishment and your appreciation for him as a person.  Something like, "[Recruit's name, NOT their Twitter handle, you lepton] did a great job this week! Can't wait to have him in the [pairing of your school's two main colors]!"
DON'T: Tweet/message the recruit DIRECTLY asking him if he's going to decommit and go to a 'better' school. This is a stupid reaction and why would you even have it Kevin, c'mon man we talked about this stop being such a needy, feeble milquetoast.

Scenario #2: A highly ranked running back recruit, currently committed to the school you support, tweeted something cryptic about maybe thinking about considering the possibility of decommitting. Something like, "Man..."
DO: Nothing. Are you honestly going to stew about a one-word non sequitur posted online by a high schooler attempting to elicit a reaction from other high schoolers with whom he/she is familiar? Shut up and go outside or talk to a member of the sex to which you're attracted or read a book. Probably one with pictures.
DON'T: Reply to the tweet with something like, "@HighlyRankedRecruit YOU BETTER NOT DECOMMIT #[your school's clichéd but recognizable unity chant, usually something like "Go ____!"]" or "@HighlyRankedRecruit Fine! Go play for [rival school] we didn't want you anyway!" First of all, yes you did, that's why he has an offer. Secondly, shut up.

Scenario #3: A recruit/player tweets about a personal problem. Maybe they're having relationship issues, or a family member is sick. They say something like, "Dang. It's tough right now. Don't know what to do."
DO: Again, probably nothing. See Scenario #2. You know who teenagers absolutely LOVE hearing from when their heart's a-breakin' over a fellow teenager babe/dude-babe? NOT NEIDERMEYERS LIKE YOU ON THE INTERNET. Leave them alone.
DON'T: Reply to the tweet. See the recurring theme here where you shut up and don't say anything because go find something better to do with your life like learn a trade or draw a beautiful sunset or read about the tumultuous history of pants or watch a brilliant movie?

I will recommend this one. It's currently on Netflix and I absolutely love it and you will too. Also I needed an excuse to insert a picture and break up all this text.
Scenario #4: A recruit/player tweets about a different school or team that happens to be playing. Something like, "Woah, [school currently playing football on national television] looks good today."
DO: Agree, or disagree if you'd like. Debate is what makes us the USA, you guys. Starting up a friendly debate about #sports gets my junk all stutterin' and aflutter just like any other meat-slammin' American! That's one of the fun things about the Internet: if you feel like talkin' sports with a total stranger, you can go for it! I can't rightly go up to any old lady feeding Raisin Bran to pigeons in the park and ask her if she thinks Alabama's defense will hold up in the second half, but on the Internet I can! #SPOTRS ARE MY LIFEBLOOD AND I LOEV #TALKIN' BOUT 'EM SPOOOOORTS.
DON'T: Directly ask the recruit in question if they now want to decommit and go to the school they've mentioned. By doing that, you've managed to somehow intensely re-stupid the already stupid phrase, "If you love it so much then why don't you marry it!" You're absolutely being that childish if that's your reaction. "If you like that school so much then why don't you just go there!" Take a long look in the mirror, then do pushups until your chest explodes, exposing your inner-abdomen, and an angel comes to you from whatever your perception of Heaven is and removes your sad, broken, stupid heart and replaces it with one that isn't so petty and awful and then sews you back up free of charge and with only minor scarring.

Scenario #5: A recruit decommits from your school. Perhaps your coaching staff is in transition, or perhaps the recruit feels he has committed too early, and would like to explore other options. It's not ideal, but teenage minds are fickle. Having been a teenager in the recent past, I can vouch for this fully.
DO: Wish the recruit well in his pursuit of the proper decision. Maybe say something like "Hopefully [that recruit's name and NOT their Twitter handle] reconsiders, but best of luck!" except probably don't say that, it's creepy and weird.
DON'T: Keep your moods and general well-being so conspicuously tied to the decisions of teenagers who happen to play sports.

Maybe you're so angry at this child for changing his/her mind - How f***ing dare he, right? - that you're about to send him a very carelessly assembled but well-reasoned response: something like, "@DECOMMITTEDRECRUIT I HATE YOU I HOPE YOU DONT SUCSEEDE I CANT BELIFE U WOLD DO HTIS TO ME". Hey, we've all been there. But before you hit that conveniently placed, aesthetically pleasing blue 'Tweet' button, take some time to consider WHY you're so pissed, and at WHAT you're pissed.

"You don't understand man, Michigan football is my LIFE." Oh no, I get it. I'm right there, screaming at the TV with everyone else. However, I also understand that these are human beings, and that often our expressions of anger are directed at the wrong people and are often a symptom of self-anger. You, which is to say 'we,' love sports because it's a chance for something to make us happy when maybe something else isn't fulfilling that emotional need. With that in mind, try to remember that your own happiness should never be tied to the decisions/actions of someone you don't know and likely will never meet. So, before you go spouting off and displaying yourself as Shining Example #1 of What's Wrong with The Internet and, More Broadly, The Human Race, refer back to your ol' pal FerGodSakes and maybe don't say that terrible thing you were going to say.

FOOTNOTE: If you've read this far, perhaps you're wondering what 'Trixie Blarston' means. Welp, my friends and I tend to come up with ways to describe people that are a bit esoteric and derive from the way we feel about something. For example, "Chippy Dorklate" is used to refer to a friend of ours simply because he just looks like a Chippy Dorklate. Trixie Blarston was derived in the same fashion, and is roughly equivalent to 'chachbag' or 'douchelord,' though we hesitate to give it an exact definition. But hey, now when you don't know how to describe a person, you can say they were being a real Trixie Blarston and have a nice chuckle to yourself, knowing that Joe from FerGodSakes is chuckling with you.


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