But that isn’t always how it goes.
On today’s radio show, Steve Borsch was talking about the way in which social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is playing out — as an extension of social interaction more than as a new form of shopping mall or marketing environment — and an observation I made a couple of weeks ago during the Vikings game congealed like mucus in the back of your throat when you are getting over a cold (See Pandemonium Looms in Minneapolis). So, since I have a blog, I thought I’d hack it up for you.
Chris Kluwe is the beloved kicker for the Vikings. I don’t really understand football at this level, but in between “possession” the “special” teams come on the field and a kicker kicks the ball so that it lands in a certain spot to the disadvantage of the other team. Apparently, entire games can be won on the basis of this single act, and our man, Kluwe, is widely appreciated as a kicker by vikings fans. So, when he stepped for the first time onto the field during a game being played in inclement Minnesota weather in the University’s open air stadium (the NFL stadium having collapsed under the weight of a 17 inch snow storm), it seemed out of place to hear the fans booing him.
Why were Minnesota fans booing Chris Klewe? Because earlier in the day, he tweeted something that the fans did not want to hear. In fact, what he tweeted was so bad that the NFL overlords demanded that he stop talking about the issue on Twitter, presumably with a threat of being fined, which apparently they can do. The NFL shut him down because of two or three 140 character comments and the fans boo’ed him for what he said. It must have been awful.
In fact, what Chris Klewe said was that the bitter cold of the open air stadium was going to freeze the ground solid, significantly increasing the chances of someone hitting the ground hard and getting a concussion or other serious head injury.
… all respect to the people that cleared the field and got it ready, you did an amazing job. That being said, its unplayable.
The field is as hard as concrete … and anyone that hits their head is going to get a concussion.
I’ve been asked not to tweet anymore about the field so as not to distract teammates … and I will honor that.
Then they played the game, and during the first drive, Bret Favre, the Vikings Quarterback, was knocked down, hit his head, got a concussion, and his career ended at that moment.1
Kluwe was right. And, he was right about something important, and about something that the fans should have been concerned with. And, he was right about a major Minnesota Vikings player getting injured, and the fans had just witnessed the predicted injury before their very eyes, and prior to Kluwe stepping out onto the field for the first time that day.
But, Chris Kluwe apparently also said something negative, though also accurate, about the TCF Bank Stadium, and the stadium was full of fans who were happy to have the stadium available to them, who were enjoying themselves showing off as fans braving the game in horrible weather. They were all dumb-asses, of course. The original stadium, the one that had collapsed, held some 60 thousand people, and as is usually the case with football games, most or all of those seats were sold. The TCF Bank stadium holds some 40 thousand. And, there were only about 25 to 30 thousand at this game. The other fans stayed away, while a subset of them went to see a losing team in a part of town with zero parking at a stadium with no beer (the U does not allow it) in near zero temperatures and snow. So they were the dumbasses. Nonetheless, when the Vikings Quarterback got a concussion by hitting his head on the frozen stadium surface, even the dumbasses should have put two and two together and cheered Chris Kluwe for having spoken truth to power. But no. All they could see was Kluwe dissing the open air stadium, and thus, the fans who were at the game boo’ed him.
So, MY take on social networking: It’s an amplifier and a new venue. Social networking is a place where technology can facilitate additional opportunities for people to be morons in a very public and spectacular way. Like the men who can’t back down from a misogynist argument in which they advocate for rape (we’ve had a couple of those idiotic conversations recently in my Facebook community), the special subset of sports fans who are, well, “special” I guess, are able to make asses of themselves in new and spectacular ways.
I hope they name a helmet after Chris Kluwe.
1Probably. That may or may not have been his last game anyway, but the concussion put him off the field for the rest of that game, he’s not been back, and as I write this the Vikings are playing the last game of the season without him.