You asked for it. Poking bears with sticks. Laughing. Thinking that you know more about a given sport than the athletes that play it; the coaches that manage it; the referees that regulate it.
You sit in the comforts and anonymity of your home, pounding away at computer or smartphone. Sending out incendiary messages about your [least] favorite player, or how your team sucks because of x, y, and z. This is the “privilege” of being a fan — a voice to criticize. And this is the new “right” bestowed upon those fans — taking to Twitter, Facebook, or blogs to air out those well-crafted critiques.
Back in the day (whenever that “day” was), fans would voice their grievances at bars or around the water cooler (do workplaces really have water coolers?). Now, they vocalize that anger digitally. The thing is, before the avenue of criticism was a one-way path down a canopy road out in the middle of nowhere. Now, those words are travelling down a well-lit highway running right through sprawling metropolises of information…and it is heavily populated.
Now, athletes — long secret targets of criticism — can now see their “fans” lobbing firebombs in their direction. How does he still have a job? Two points on 1 of 9 shooting…again!? Are negative QB ratings even possible???? Well, at least he had one strikeout in his 1/3 of an inning pitched! All such words of encouragement are floating around for athletes to see…and some are firing back.
That is apparently what happened when Jerry Stackhouse — who surprisingly still has a roster spot [honestly, i thought he was finally out of the NBA] — fired back at smartass criticism from a know-it-all fan. Or, several fans apparently.
The Twitter exchange is covered well via other venues (see HERE and HERE, as well as the Twitter accounts of this cat and this one). So, I leave that there. The dialogue and actual exchange itself is not the purpose of this article. I’d rather focus on the fact that Stackhouse stepped up and fired back…and fans get all pissy about it!
In full disclosure, I am far from being a fan of Jerry Stackhouse. I hated him during his days in Chapel Hill, and disliked him as an NBA player. So, I am not siding with him because of some personal bias or infatuation with Stack.
However, in this minor “Twitter war,” I side with Stackhouse. The fans that criticize him seemed “shocked” that Stackhouse would become offended that they are criticizing him. It seems appalling to them that he would even offer up a response. Apparently, because they are privileged as fans, they can voice their harsh criticism of players without retribution. Apparently, the freedom of speech only applies to fans.
But, Jerry Stackhouse does not see it that way. Hell, he’s “never been a fan” so he shouldn’t have a voice in return, according to some. However, Twitter does give him a voice. And he decided to use it. And use it he did! Why? Because Stackhouse has a right to speech…and a right to respond!
No one is claiming that fans do not have a right to criticism. Entertainment, be it sports, film and television, or books, is an industry where open criticism is expected. But this industry is also populated with actual people with real emotions and real feelings. They think and react just like you. So, while fans are allowed to voice their opinions, so are athletes. Or, at least, they should be able to do so.
Yet, there is a mistaken belief that athletes should remain silent; they should just take criticism because it is “a part of their job.” It is? I am fairly certain that nowhere in Jerry Stackhouse’s contract does it state “put up with fans’ shit.” And, I am not sure why Stackhouse responding to fans is “unprofessional,” as some defenders of these fans have suggested. Why not hold fans accountable as well? Why not call their constant complaining “unprofessional”? If Stackhouse and other athletes are supposed to be “professional” and refrain from interacting with fans, then why not require fans to also act “professionally” and support the team AND its players rather than spewing venom?
And…what is wrong with Stackhouse searching for his own name? Are you telling me that you have never searched for your own name? Hell, I bet since all of this broke, ol’ “BSchulzBKN” has searched for her/his name many times. Or searched for “NetsKiNG.” Hell, this dude is out posting everywhere s/he can to offer up her/his side of the story. “Look at what Stack said to me. Boo-hoo!”
Again, I am not defending what Stackhouse wrote in response. I hate the “get your followers up” line and the “what if I came to your cubicle and criticized you” blast [Talib Kweli, a rapper I like, drops a similar line on his Gutter Rainbows album…I hated it there, too]. But, what I am defending is Stackhouse’s right to respond. Hell, he even tried to keep it low key by sending the dude a private message. This “fan” was the one who took it public and blew it out of proportion. And, who really knows what this “fan” deleted in response [not claiming that the fan did, but you never know…perhaps one of BSchulzBKN’s 200+ followers can let me know…if one of those followers happen to be one of the six people to actually read this].
So, blast away fans! Keep up the good work of spouting off your opinions and expert analysis on Twitter. Just do not be surprised when the targets of your expertise fire back. Or, to quote the “great” Jerry Stackhouse:
It’s Amazing how people love to spit venom on others until a little bit splashes back on them…then they become victims!!