I had gotten into this briefly with my memo concerning flame wars before Pack-Vikes I. This week, SBNation member Robert Rence took the initiative to post his own thoughts regarding the run-up to Pack-Vikes II and the guaranteed overflow of emotion that will take place both here and at the Daily Norseman.
Basically, the moral of both stories is this: Don't be a jerk. Admittedly, that's a vague goal, as one can take several approaches towards being a jerk that makes it seem like they're not being a jerk, but face it, they're being a jerk.
So why are people still being jerks?It's a simple problem on sports blogs to diagnose, but it's damn near impossible to treat. People are passionate about their sports teams, and when they feel that their team has been insulted, slighted, disrespected, or otherwise, they are compelled to act.
That's a weird evolution in human nature. I think any of us would be hard pressed to find someone who could sit back and ignore ignorance and venom spewing from the keyboards of trolls and ignorant fans. I consider myself fairly level-headed, but even I get sucked in sometimes. It happens, even though it shouldn't.
Obviously, I like to preach to people to simply ignore the idiocy that sometimes crops up. It won't work out that way every time. People are too proud for their own good sometimes, and they will go into a conversation with the best of intentions and be reduced to playing the part of a petty, vindictive, and overly-sensitive fool. It's unavoidable sometimes, and I recognize that.
But here's the rub: there's a very fine line between a rival fan coming onto an opponent's site and trolling. It's the grayest shade of gray, and it's very easy to confuse the former for the latter. Because of that ambiguity, there is often a backlash against rival fans, more often than not including some form of "get off our site."
This leads to a duality of sorts. On the one hand, Acme Packing Company is absolutely and always a site for Packer fans, first and foremost. Brandon and I certainly don't write posts, study box scores, break down film, or foster conversations for football fans. We do it for Packer fans. We help our fellow cheeseheads out by organizing and interpreting the vast amounts of information that are available to all of us, but for one reason or another not everyone is able to get to it until it's buried in newer information.
I don't even think it's something we do because we're necessarily better at it than others. But we do it because we want to, we're motivated to do it, and most importantly, we're available to do it. I love sorting through the latest Packer news and seeing how all the different pieces fit together to form the picture of the team. But even more than that, I love starting conversations among fellow Packer fans, even if it is a mash-up of dread from a recent disappointment, an ongoing problem, or an upcoming battle where doubt overshadows our optimism. Obviously, I prefer it when it's a celebration of a recent success and an extrapolation of future successes.
That's what Acme Packing Company is: a Packer site. But, by virtue of the hosting site, APC is not exclusively for Packer fans. As a member of the SBNation family of sites, APC is just one of 32 sites devoted to each of the NFL's franchises. Each and every one of them are open communities, not only among its own members, but for members across the vast abyss we call the Internet.
That's an overly verbose way of saying that other fans are allowed to comment on our site. Period. Anybody coming over here to get a new perspective on our team or how we view their team is (and should be) able to do so. They should not have to deal with being insulted and shunned by the users of our site, just like we should not have to deal with it on theirs.
Does this mean you have to be nice when other people come over? Not necessarily, especially if they're exhibiting the characteristics of trolling. But you have to at least be cordial so long as they're reasonable. A quick checklist for you:
Should you be proud of your team? Absolutely.
Should you be realistic? Probably, but it never hurts to exhibit some foolish optimism every once in a while.
Should you respect other teams and their fans? Definitely, even if the team itself sucks out loud.
Should you enjoy every ounce of shadenfreude you can? Oh sweet Lord, yes. I know I do.
These are things that we should all be doing. If you want to diss another team, make sure you back it up and at least try to not sound condescending or arrogant. If you want to diss another team jokingly, make sure it's funny enough to be seen as a joke. If you want to ask a fanbase for their take on something, make sure it's thoughtful and not degrading.
Will this happen all the time? Nope.
This will by no means stop what’s about to transpire. I really do like the fact that you posted this, but a jackass is a jackass, and reading a well thought out argument as to why being a jackass is dumb is not going to change said jackass’ perception of his jackassed self. He or she will continue in his or her jackassery for all times, no matter the anti-jackassery warnings.
Fair enough. I, for one, want to avoid being a jackass as much as possible. I save all my jackassery for my fantasy football message boards (and trust me, I've got some gems on there).
I want this site to be a platform for football conversation both among Packer fans and between fans of other teams. We all deserve credit for making this site what it is today, but that also gives us the responsibility to keep it that way.