Most weekends, I can be found parked in front of my TV watching the footy with my phone in hand, following the chat on Twitter and Facebook among people who are doing the same.
Social media has changed a lot in the world of sport fandom. Growing up, you didn’t have to hear anyone’s bad opinions (completely subjective, of course) unless you saw them in person. When you’re at school or later, at the pub, a face-to-face confrontation about said opinion might occur, where nothing can be misconstrued or taken out of context and usually, you can agree to disagree. Or even change their mind if you’re a relentless debater.
But in the modern day, sharing an opinion on a game or a player opens yourself up to countless people you’ve never met giving you theirs – which fosters plenty of healthy back-and-forth for the most part, but can be a little bit exhausting.
The one phenomenon I’ve really noticed is a groundswell of emotion spread on social media like wildfire.
When it’s pure joy, like among New South Wales fans last Wednesday and Queensland fans for the past 150 years (or something like that, I’ve lost count), it’s very fun to be involved in. But there is a flipside which I saw following the Bulldogs’ loss to the Panthers at the weekend – when anger explodes and creates something far beyond the regular “I’m sick of this, time to change channels”.
There were people threatening to boycott games and the club, burn their merchandise and a petition to sack Des Hasler appeared almost simultaneously.
We’ve all been there when our team has sucked so bad you spend the game wishing you could hibernate like a bear and sleep through it. Watching at a pub, you can have a whinge, stomp around and get another beer – on social media, you find likeminded individuals and anger keeps burning inside you until perspective becomes hard to find.
All fans have the right to feel aggrieved – especially when they fork out their hard-earned bucks and feel like they’re not getting good performances in return – but in the bubble created by social media, things can get out of hand.
I did see plenty of Tweets the next day from Bulldogs fans, many of them saying “sorry about what I said when I was angry”, which was very funny.
Here’s to a fresh start for Round 14!
And another thing… We’ve got James Tedesco on this week’s cover, with former legends saying he’s well in the frame for Australia's fullback position for the World Cup following his outstanding performances for New South Wales. I personally find it hard to say Darius Boyd should ever be shifted, but it's plenty of food for thought. Lucky Mal Meninga.
The Round 14 issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents, supermarkets, at the ground and via www.magsonline.com.au/big-league