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A Few Ugly, Angry Fans Are Ruining The SEC

The majority of SEC fans root for their school passionately.  The majority of SEC fans don’t call in to talk shows or visit messageboards.  The majority of SEC fans enjoy passing down the thrill of a fall Saturday to their sons and daughters.

But a few SEC fans are complete asses. 

And those asses are making the SEC a pretty miserable league to cover these days. 

A rich conference blessed with great coaches and terrific on-field success should be cause for great joy.  But for the very vocal minority, anger, hate and ugliness are the product, not joy and happiness.

Think about some of the loose cannon nut jobs we’ve encountered in recent months:

* Some Arkansas fans used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to Houston Nutt’s cell phone records.  Those records were then released to try and show that the coach had been carrying on an affair.  In other words, because Nutt wasn’t winning enough, a few Arkansas-backers decided to try and ruin the lives of a number people.  That’s evil.

* Some Tennessee fans made death threats to the family of Lane Kiffin after he announced that he was heading to Southern Cal.  His wife had to call police to her house when fans with flashlights were seen outside the family home.  Then, a full year later, a Knoxville-area firearms store had set aside a day for fans to come and shoot Kiffin bobblehead dolls (before sane people backed them down).  That’s sick.

* A deranged Alabama fan — who had named his children Crimson Tyde and Bear — allegedly planned and executed an attack on Auburn’s 130-year-old Toomer’s Corner oak trees.  This act was intended to take a place of joy away from thousands of Auburn fans.  That’s hateful.

We could go on.  Hell, we could mention the LSU fan who blew away two Alabama fans in 2008 following a taunting episode over a Tide-Tigers football game.

Instead, we’ll just point out that an Auburn or Alabama story can’t go up on this site without enraged fans of both sides throwing barbs at one another and this site.  It seems every story we write regarding Auburn’s ongoing NCAA issues is met by Bama fans claiming we’re taking up for AU… and Auburn fans claiming that we’re out to get their school.

Could one story do both?  Nope.  Which only proves that bias is usually found between the ears of the reader, not the writer.

The growing ugliness among some fans is ramped up by the current 24-hour media world in which we live.  Talk radio and the internet afford nutjob fans complete anonymity, which means the rhetoric in the SEC is hotter now than ever before.

Making matters worse, some in the media have learned that ratings and pageviews can be boosted by making outlandish claims and stirring the proverbial pot.  Some of the more unscrupulous folks in my profession have no problem playing Jerry Springer in all of this.  Apparently bundles of cash in your mattress make sleeping quite easy.

Finally, there’s no reason to dial things down in our day and age.

Fifty years ago, fans would go to a game, see their team lose and become angry.  The next day they would read their morning paper and fume.  On Monday they might go to the local barbershop and complain to their friends.  But by Tuesday, most folks were back in “real life” mode.

Today, fans upset over a game never ever have to let it go.  They post photos and videos on websites.  They call into dozens of talk radio shows from sunup to sundown.  They rant on messageboards and sling insults in comment boxes. 

Anger doesn’t subside as it did in 1961.  Instead, it just grows as the days and weeks pass.  That’s how you get to a point where some SEC fans decide it’s a good idea to try to ruin a coach’s family life, to make death threats, to commit acts of great vandalism.

It’s not good, folks.  Yet many just laugh it off saying, “Aw, fans have always hated each other.”  They’re underestimating the perfect storm the SEC is now facing.

Fans are uglier and angrier towards one another than ever before.  The means of communication now available allow the ugliest minority of fans to spew so much venom that venom actually becomes the norm.  

What’s accepted in music, television, film and pop culture today would not have been accepted 20 years ago.  The further the boundaries are pushed, the more we’re desensitized.

The same goes for hate talk (and now acts) in the sports world.

There are literally some fans out there who would rather tear down and destroy another program than watch their own favorite program succeed.  To be honest, it’s hard to understand how some people can become so twisted, but it’s happening.  Every day it happens a little bit more.  And at some point, the SEC could be left as a probation-riddled hull of its current self, undone by a few overzealous, half-baked fans who’ve chosen to spend all of their time digging for and dishing dirt on their favorite school’s rivals.

It’s time for the normal fans to take the world of SEC sports back.  It’s time to let the screamers and the ranters out there know that their anger is misplaced and childish.  It’s time to show a little more sportsmanship when some other team rolls into your town.

After all, do SEC fans watch sports because they want to be happy?  Or because they want to feel angry?

The majority would say, “to be happy.”  But the minority is growing louder by the hour.




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