April 23, 2014

Like what you like and stop being so defensive

wrongoninternetCan we just agree that Cleveland sports fans are defensive? It’s OK, mostly, and it only gets to embarrassing levels some of the time, but can we at least agree that Cleveland sports fans are a bit on the defensive and/or sensitive side? That’s what I’m coming to realize in my continued talks with Scott Raab every Monday. It also came up when I talked about soccer with Tom Reed yesterday. I think there’s a tendency to lash out among Cleveland fans and it might be time to recognize it and do something about it.

There are lots of reasons that we are defensive. First of all, it’s hard not to be cranky when you haven’t sniffed a playoff game since LeBron left town, Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia were still on the Tribe roster, and Kelly Holcomb was tossing the ball all over Heinz Field. It’s hard when ESPN has “The Montage” ready to go at all times. To them, it’s just a relevant video snippet even if to us it’s like a video reminder of a death in the family. So, I’m not saying that the feelings aren’t without merit. It’s what we do with those feelings that I want to discuss.

In the Internet age – and the new Twitter age specifically – the defensive nature of Cleveland sports fans has been amplified. Last night was an especially strange night because not only were Cleveland fans pretty actively participating in the conversation during the Miami Heat’s miraculous comeback in game six of the NBA Finals against the Spurs, but many were also watching the Tribe and the United States Men’s National Team.

Speaking of the USMNT, soccer fans in the United States are a defensive bunch too. They face a barrage of criticism for their sport as boring, low-scoring and frequently ending in ties. So, if Cleveland fans are defensive, and soccer fans are also defensive, when you combine a Cleveland fan, who also happens to be a soccer fan? That’s some Bruce Bowen or Ben Wallace levels of defensiveness. Just ask Dustin Fox.

Last night during the NBA Finals, Dustin Fox tweeted wondering why there were so many soccer tweets in his timeline when there was an NBA Finals game happening. He also retweeted someone who mis-identified yesterday’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras as an “exhibition.” He got that wrong, and has since deleted the retweet, but you can only imagine the hate tweets that went spewing toward him after that.

In talking to Tom Reed about soccer yesterday, I told him that I’ve decided to never partake in the clichéd conversation that I’ve found myself in over the years. It usually involves non-soccer fans challenging me to tell them why they should like soccer or why soccer is good. I’d be happy to try and explain the game to someone, of course, but I’m not going to try and defend it to someone who rails against a lack of scoring or games ending in ties. It’s a fool’s errand, and no matter how much it might get under my skin to have something I like be dismissed, in the end, that should have nothing to do with my own enjoyment of it.

In this day and age where there are ever more things to watch in this world, we really need to stop being so defensive. I used to make fun of NASCAR and horse racing and even “sports entertainment” like the WWE. I’ll try to do better, but even still, if I or someone else says something obnoxious about NASCAR and you really like it, what’s the difference?

Twitter and the Internet are a place where people are finding more antagonists than ever before, but you can also get hooked up with those who share your interests. For every person who thinks my UFC tweets are annoying, I’ve got three more who I seem to converse with every time there’s a big event. Additionally, I’ve found a nice pocket of MMA reporters to follow for insight, quotes and other news and opinion.

But if you’re so caught up in an argument that boils down to, “I’m not stupid! You are!” then are you really still enjoying what you want to enjoy to its maximum level? Don’t be afraid to like what you like. Don’t be afraid if other people don’t like what you like. And please stop being so defensive. I’m guilty of it too and the further along I get in life the worse I think it looks on me.

Now where’s Rob Riggle? I’d like to give him a piece of my mind for those jokes he told at the 2012 ESPYs!1

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Footnotes:

  1. I really did do like 50 Rob Riggle jokes on Twitter immediately following his appearance. []

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Mingo said our defense could be the best!

    US soccer defeated another juggernaut in Honduras. Take that Brasil, you to Italy!

  • Harv 21

    [stifles sob, cruises Spotify for Cat Stevens and, dang it, keeps office door open]

    Agree, social media amplifies this unfortunate mindset by letting us hear every stupid [Michael Irvin] voice, creates a culture of competing anxieties.

  • AOCleveland

    Welcome to the light… the argument you are avoiding only clouds the conversation. Thank you for deciding to discontinue its plague.

    AO Cleveland is a USMNT supporters group, but we are also sports fans and Clevelanders… there is no mutually exclusive relationship when enjoying sport of any kind.

    That said, if anyone in Cleveland ever wants to catch a USMNT game in a welcoming, yet raucous environment… we watch every game at Mavis Winkle’s in Independence.

  • JHop

    Say what you want about soccer, this one thing is true:

    FIFA is by far superior to Madden and all other sports video games out there.

  • Willis

    Great sports viewing last night: watched the Tribe come-back, then flipped to catch the second half of the USMNT game (3 points!), then watched the epic ending of Game 6.

    Weather you are a soccer fan or not, there is something magical about watching a game in a bar where EVERYONE is cheering and starts the U-S-A! chants.

  • Jaker

    CLEVELAND SPORTS FANS ARE NOT DEFENSIVE!

  • MrCleaveland

    Defensive? What’s that supposed to mean?

  • Shane H

    My only gripe with this is when “national” guys or people on twitter with large followings start lobbing grenades in our direction. For instance, last night got into a little twitter spat with Matt Miller (d-bag @nfldraftscout). He decided to feel the need to say “congrats, Cleveland” as it appeared he Spurs were gonna win. Then came back with “sorry Cleveland, you lose again” Sure its just words on a website, but coming from “experts” with a huge audience it perpetuates a false sense of what the actual Cleveland sports fan cares about. Its stupid but I’m also sick of hearing it. Sure our teams suck, but what can we really do about it except for piss and moan on the internet or radio? These national guys assume that since the teams suck we, in turn, must suck as well and that’s what I can’t take. Should we all move out of the city? Should we all stop going to Browns and Cavs games (sorry Tribe you’re exempt because no one goes to the Prog as it is) then we would suck and deserve these accusatory jabs from afar. But we continue to support our teams and passionately care about them yet have to continually be told our teams, city and fans suck…..
    Did you know that Forbes Magazine ranked the Miami Heat fans as the “best” in the NBA? I’m sure that’s what they were all thinking filing out of the AAA last night with a minute to go in the 4th quarter……
    I have no problems defending my team, city, sports interests or fandom when it’s warranted and after last night and possibly what’s to come tomorrow….We better batten down the hatches because the cheap shots will come often and from every direction.

  • WAMPUS

    I’m a MASTER of all kungfu-related defensive arts! A Cleveland-based soccer supporter of the Cleveland soccer team! — Also Browns, Cavs, Tribe, Monsters and part-time Gladiators fan… the chip on my shoulder would crush most mortals.

    Cleveland has a soccer team and they need support. AFC Cleveland won the division championship last year, but have struggled in 2013. There are only 2 home games left. This Friday and July 5th.

    Friday we (6th City Syndicate) are raising money for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation at the game. 7:30 kickoff at Krenzler Field (CSU Campus Downtown) tickets are only $6 — We’d love to see Clevelanders come out to the game… we have a blast! — WAMPUS —

  • WAMPUS

    Couldn’t agree with this assessment more!

    That said, where can I get my “Clevelantonio” shirt?

  • Ben Frambaugh

    For me, there are only every three sports that I can actually sit down and watch (and enjoy). Football, basketball and MMA. For everything else, if I’m not playing, I can’t watch. I want for the USA soccer team to do well. I want for the Indians to do well. But I can’t just sit there and watch it…even with friends.

    Now, if my friends are out playing soccer, volleyball, softball, etc…I’m all in. I’ll play it poorly, but I love competing for the sake of competing. ;)

  • Hopwin

    Every other sports game out there except NHL ’97 and ’98 that is.

  • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

    In some ways this is an extension of people who get upset about Browns talk during “Cavs season” or “Indians season.”

    There are far more sports I don’t follow than I do; I’d rather sit and stare at the wall than watch golf, tennis, the WNBA, etc. I’ll also watch just about any NFL or college football game. But unless the Cavs or the Indians are playing, I rarely watch basketball or baseball.

    But if someone else likes it and it shows up in my Twitter timline? Good for them. Like what you like and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.

    Interesting that you bring up soccer. This is a bit of a generalization, but I’ve found that many of the people who “hate soccer” tend to be ones who think that a 1-0 baseball game is the height of awesomeness, but somehow a 1-0 (or 0-0) soccer game is automatically boring.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Agreed, I went out to the bar where our local chapter of American Outlaws watches the USMNT games and it was an absolute blast. I didn’t really do any of the chanting, but I sat there in my #17 Altidore jersey and enjoyed the atmosphere while also getting to watch the NBA Finals. Great night.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    That may have been the best opening line for a comment, ever.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    USA did beat Italy recently :)

  • mgbode

    if you don’t understand the intracacies of what is happening, then it IS boring. I understand and love the drama of the baseball game. I don’t understand all that is going on in that soccer game, so it’s going to bore me much more quickly.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    This ties in to a thought that I’ve had for a long time which is basically that sports are only boring to people when they don’t understand the rules and strategy involved. I know the rules to tennis, but find it boring to watch because I really don’t know the strategy. I didn’t like watching soccer until I started playing it and being coached in high school… then I understood what to look for while watching.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I readily admit to being a defender of soccer–having spent the last 28 years playing and/or coaching will do that. But what I learned during my college years was to pick my battles. Roommates don’t really know much about the game, but are curious and open to learning? I loved talking them through tactics in a match, introducing them to the elite club levels, and letting them decide for themselves if they were into it. But the people whose interest in the sport begins and ends with things like “Soccer players are soft” or “Whoa, 2-1? It’s a barn burner!”? Anymore I simply chuckle, shake my head, and move on. As is often the case with politics, you’re just not going to change some people’s minds–often because they have no interest in changing in the first place.

    Personally, the NBA–unless the Cavs are involved–doesn’t do much for me. That was especially true last night, as I had no doubt the Heat would win, given the league’s history of…how do we say it? “Predictability” in big games. But I wasn’t going to be shocked or bitter to see my twitter timeline full of NBA talk. It’s game six of the finals, with two popular teams involved. I just chose to stay out of the fray and stick with what I wanted to watch instead. Cleveland teams give me enough sports-related stress as it is. No need to add to it debating fan quality, attendance figures, whose sport is better, or getting worked up about teams I don’t root for anyway.

  • Natedawg86

    NHL 94 for SNES was the best, you may have been too young for that, but I could score on average a goal+ per minute. Wrap arounds and one timers all day.
    Blades of Steel was also quite the video game.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    +1 for NHL ’94 for the SNES

  • Natedawg86

    They should make VS Heat shirts haha. I would probably get one

  • Hopwin

    Skate up the top side of the ice, power up and shoot right before the faceoff circle. Burned into my brain like the Konami code LOL

  • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

    I think that goes back to the original point, though. If you prefer baseball, then just enjoy it. Why say some other sport is boring? That brings a negative into the situation that may not be needed.

  • Natedawg86

    2-1 is a barn burner, yet no one would say anything in (american) fooball at a 14-7 score.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I think many folks are losing patience with low-scoring American football as well, if the twitter-verse is any indication. Appreciation for a defensive struggle in most sports isn’t what it once was. Offense is sexier, chicks dig the long ball, etc.