The Ugly Side of Fans

As a person who watched sports as a young boy constantly, and still watches sports constantly to this day, I understand that people will be passionate about their sports. There are many reasons for this; whether that reason is people want to escape from the everyday struggle of life or to find morals and life lessons in sports, it is no question that passion in sports for the most part is a good thing. After all people’s love for sports has created jobs, realized dreams, and in special cases, created social change in a positive direction (which I as a black man is so very happy about). On the other hand, sometimes we are reminded that passion and sports do not always mix, and on Saturday night, we the North American sports fan base were reminded about it.

                After the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2 loss to the lowly Buffalo Sabers, fans exercised their right as sports fans to voice their displeasure on twitter. Nothing wrong with making negative comments on twitter, except when it is taken too far and a player’s wife is brought into it.

April Reimer, wife of James Reimer, Goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs, received tweets from anonymous twitter accounts that bordered on verbal abuse to put it lightly. One anonymous account actually quote said “****ING LEAVE YOU’RE UNWANTED” (courtesy of the TheScore). The interesting and worrisome thing is that this is not the first time this has happened to April Reimer, in fact last year around the time of the Toronto Maple Leafs collapse Reimer’s Wife was subject to verbal abuse except it was much uglier. Some tweets were death threats towards the net minder and his wife.

All this makes one wonder why someone would even want to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs if the fans are this crazy, in fact James Reimer after last season reportedly wanted out of the Toronto based organization that and I could not help thinking that those tweets were a big reason why.

   April Reimer is not the only person to be verbally attacked on twitter when it came to a sports event. In fact, my favourite example when P.K. Subban was subject to racist tweets by Boston fans who also voiced their displeasure after P.K Subban was instrumental in defeating the Boston Bruins during their playoff series.

What is important to note is that in both of these examples of North American sports fans losing their minds on twitter is that, unlike in other parts of the world with sports, there is no political, economic or social struggle in either case. It is simply just a bunch of fans taking the game a bit too seriously and going on twitter where they can hide behind a computer screen.

  This article is not a sociological explanation as to why people want to go after athletes or their families on twitter, nor is it a scolding of the fans but this is more of plea to fans to understand that in reality your favourite sports team and athlete are just winning and losing games nothing more, and nothing less.

Passion is needed in sports after all fans are allowed to cheer, and be upset. However, that does not mean that the fans are allowed to exhibit hate through social media. This plea should be listened to because, I for one, appreciate that fans can voice their pleasure or displeasure with an athlete’s performance in the game on social media, in fact, I have done that before. However this easy access to an athlete can be lost and with reason if the athletes do not feel safe.

By fans tweeting abusive remarks to April Reimer, this is all the more reason for athletes to be worried about twitter and thus cancel their accounts. Although this is also all the more reason to protect the privilege we have been given to talk to athletes by realizing that there is no place for hateful comments towards them. If we allow ourselves or our peers to take this access to the extreme and hurl abuse at our favourite athletes than athletes should definitely deactivate their accounts. But if there is the understanding of positive and negative remarks towards the athlete should only be about the sports then twitter can be a great tool for both the fan and the athlete.