Wednesday, August 19, 2015

FANdom, FANaticism and Kiss My FANny

So today I got into a Twitter war. 

Yeah, I know. Big shocker. I usually try really really hard to avoid those, mostly because words are the primary tools of my trade. Getting into a squabble with a Twitter troll is really wrong of me. It's the equivalent of Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson squaring up in the ring with Pee Wee Herman--the audience knows Pee Wee is horrifically outmatched, but just cannot turn away from the carnage. 

Like taking an Uzi to a paintball game.

At any rate, what started the fight was an argument over what constitutes a fan. A guy who roots for Florida during football season and Duke during basketball season instigated the event, and even though I used small words and tried to type slowly he chose to ignore the point I was trying to make.

To me, there's a lot of difference between a FAN and a FANATIC, even though the first term evolved from the second. For example--

I am a University of Tennessee FAN. I have always been a UT FAN--one of my earliest memories is watching football with my dads and uncles and cousins during some holiday at my grandparents' house. I have only ever rooted for UT, no matter the sport. When I was a teenager, our football program was being rebuilt and our basketball team, frankly, sucked, but I only ever pulled for the Vols. In my adult life, I have never worn another school's colors. While I will watch and pull for a team in a non-UT game, I've never rooted against UT because I liked another team better during that sport's season. When Tennessee was abysmal, I never wavered. The first song I sang to my babies and my daughters' babies? Rocky Top. I have several orange and white cats. Their names? Tennessee, Volunteer, Rocky...and Caesar. (Always have to have one oddball.)Rocky has a little sister who's gray. Her name? Smoky. And even though orange is absolutely NOT my color, I have UT shirts, fleeces, jackets, sweats, scarves, hats, gloves, ball caps, purses, travel bag, billfolds (two of them, both with grass and hedge leaves from Neyland), big fleece blanket, ice cooler, pitcher and cups set,light switch plates, rear view mirror block T, seat covers, flag, and innumerable Smokey stuffed dogs in this house. My daughter's twins just turned one. Before they were born, my son-in-law and I made an agreement--he gets one twin for UK basketball stardom and I get the other for UT football. And to top it all off, every single flower in my flower beds and garden is ORANGE. Not pink, or white, or lavender, or red, or blue, or purple. ORANGE.

Suffice it to say I am a Vol for life. Why is that? Because I am a FAN of UT. Being a good FAN is a full time job during the fall and winter. Especially from November-January, when football and basketball are both going on along with other less-visible but equally important sports. And if we lived closer than eight hours away, I'd have season tickets for Neyland Stadium.

So here's my question that caused such a ruckus today on Twitter: is it possible for someone to be a FAN of one school for football and a totally different school for basketball?

Obviously, some have extenuating circumstances. For example, I didn't go to UT; I went to Austin Peay State University, which is the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts in the state of Tennessee. I had a full scholarship at APSU, and when I was competing (I was a state and regional champion in public speaking, and placed at nationals several years which is yet another reason I shouldn't get into twitter wars with the debatorially challenged), I wore the school colors. APSU is my alma mater. But I can count the number of athletic events I went to at Austin Peay on one hand, although even then I was making 3-4 trips to Neyland Stadium each fall. Even then I was a UT FAN.

Then there's the Manning family dilemma. Archie Manning, father of Peyton and Eli, was a beloved Ole Miss quarterback. When Peyton was QB for the Vols, Archie would show up for the games--but I don't EVER remember him donning orange and white. He was rooting for the Vols because his son played for them, but he was  ALWAYS an Ole Miss Rebel.

This guy on Twitter doesn't have those or ANY extenuating circumstances. He is a Florida FANATIC because they always won when he was a kid, and he is a Duke FANATIC because they always won. So now, Florida will always win football and Duke will always win basketball regardless of what the reality is for both teams. Where I come from, that's called BANDWAGON, and this guy is totally pulling that bandwagon along behind his tractor with a flat tire.

I love to talk sports with folks from every SEC school, sometimes getting really deep into the mechanics of the game. Why? Because I really love football and am a student of the game. And there are a lot of FANS out there who are the same way. But this guy has no interest in the actual game. All he wants to do is regurgitate whatever 'facts' he pulled up on Google and Wikipedia to 'prove' he's right. And if someone disagrees with him, he goes on an insult rampage.

For example--

Today, in his continuing fairy tale about his Gators, he pronounced as usual that Florida would go 9-3 for the season, win the SEC, and go to the playoffs. Since the Gators don't appear to have anyone on their offensive line who's played a snap of SEC football, haven't named a quarterback, haven't really got any receivers or powerful running back, and who lost many of their defensive starters to the NFL and most of their commits to Auburn when Will Muschamp was hired there--because of all that, anyone who understands football tells him he's crazy. He also said that Mark Richt was no good, despite UGA consistently winning 9-10 games every season for a decade, that Nick Saban is washed up, and that Arkansas's Brent Bielema is a trash coach who 'ain't never beat nobody'.

Triple negatives are very difficult to translate and diagram, by the way. *wince* You know,  since they're GODAWFUL choices and frighteningly ungrammatical. Makes my brain hurt just looking at it.

At any rate, this is how deluded this guy is. And when I countered with--you know, facts?--his response was and I quote:

           Douchebag bandwagon idiot: There aint* no prostitutes in Tenessee. U know why?  There all volunteers--ask Celina 

*all spelling errors left intact on purpose what?                        

This after he told me to 'learn sports babe'.

What. The. Hell.

You know what? In college sports especially, people LOVE their teams. They  are passionate about their schools. You don't wander around UT during February and find everyone is wearing a UK shirt. You don't go to Alabama and show up at Toomer's Corner to TP the trees after Auburn beats the Tide in the Iron Bowl. It's just not done. I have about as much interest in college gymnastics or golf as I do my next door neighbor's political views, but  I sure as hell celebrate when UT does well in ANY sport. And what about the two games Florida and Duke have played in the last couple of decades' worth of NCAA tournaments? Who did the bandwagon fan root for, since the series is even at 1-1? Florida beat Duke in 2000 and in 1994 Duke beat Florida.

At any rate, after the prostitute comment, I blocked him like I should have done in the first place and saw only one side of the evisceration he received from the state of Alabama.

In my previous post, I talked about finding character studies among the people that writers associate with online. But I totally overlooked the fact that there are a lot of idiots out there who, safe behind their anonymity, cruise the internet looking for someone to fight with. This guy is like that. He calls Finebaum every day, and every day it's the same old routine--"you're not right about my Gators, man; Mark Richt is trash, man; Tennessee ain't got no reason to be hyped, man, they ain't beat nobody in years; Nick Saban is washed up, man; Bielema is a trash coach, man, he ain't never done no good, man"--and when he asks Finebaum a question, he talks OVER Paul's answer just repeating the same old crap over and over. And over. Until finally,mercifully, Paul ends the call and his entire viewing audience turns the volume back up on the TV.

So here's the gig: you're a FAN when you truly love one school/team in all things. You're a FAN when you stick with your team and wear their colors both during good years and bad. You're a FAN when your devotion to your school/team is unvaried for years--decades.

You're a FANATIC when you are incapable of listening when reasonable people are discussing your team in an honest manner. You're a FANATIC when you lose your shit because someone criticizes your team. You're a FANATIC when your idea of 'winning' an argument is to talk loudly and nonstop. You're a FANATIC when, despite your team having NO offense and only one great player (Vernon Hargreaves is, without a doubt, an absolute BEAST of a defensive back--top two in the nation probably) and a coach in his first year of being a SEC head coach and a brutal SEC schedule (relieved by a plethora of cupcakes) you still announce on a daily basis that your team is going to win the whole conference.

The only thing this guy is a FAN of is himself.

Right before I blocked him, he was saying that the reason everyone hates him is because he called the Finebaum show last March and said the Duke would win the national championship instead of Kentucky. Since Duke won the NCAA on several of my ballots, I didn't have a problem with that. Instead, I told him the truth--the reason people hate you is because you're rude and you won't listen to reasonable people's differing points of view. And in response, he equated me to a hooker.

In the end, I guess, it can all be boiled down to a fairly simple premise. FAN is derived from FANATIC and shares a lot of the same qualities. There's no doubt that the infamous Bama tree-murderer Harvey Updike is a FAN of the Alabama Crimson Tide. But there's also no doubt that Harvey is a FANATIC, because only a FANATIC would have poisoned those big, beautiful trees at Toomer's Corner  in Auburn. The folks who were just a FAN would have had a few more beers and gone to bed ticked off, but would have awakened the next day thinking "Next year we'll stomp them." A FAN wouldn't have destroyed those lovely, ancient, tradition-rich oak trees just to piss Auburn fans off.

Does anyone else wonder what kind of thought processes must have gone on in that man's mind to kill those trees and then to call Paul Finebaum up two days later and brag about having poisoned the trees to a national Sirius radio audience? That thought process is the missing link between FAN and FANATIC. I wonder if he was able to recognize that while he was in jail.

Etymologically, FANATIC means insane person, from the Latin root fanaticus meaning mad, enthusiastic, furious--and specifically was meant to describe zealots from the church--temples, in Rome, specifically the followers of Bacchus whose religion was all about going crazy. FANATIC, therefore, is meant to be a negative term, whereas FAN is a positive one. Or, as Winston Churchill famously put it:

A fanatic is someone who won't change his mind and can't change the subject.

So yeah, that FANATIC can kiss my FANny. I am a FAN of Tennessee, and his Gators are going down this year.

The jerk.