Can 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.