I was revisiting some of the posts I had written on my Rowdy.com blog, and this one stood out. Granted this was written in October of 2007, but it still holds true. Slightly edited for some rewording I want to do, but the message is still the same...
There was a post on a driver forum that I frequent that got me to thinking today about 'fanmanship'. You know, sportsmanship, only for fans instead of the players.
The post was a link to an ebay auction for one of those decals... naughty boy done up in said driver's colors urinating on the number 24. Ok, maybe its a guy thing and it ties in with marking territory (gotta give my friend Shelly props for that anaology), but for some reason I found this decal very offensive. Not just because I actually like Jeff Gordon even if he isn't my favorite driver. I'd still be offended if it were a driver I didn’t care for.
WWhy did this offend me so much? I think it has much to do with the same reason I was infuriated when those idiot Dale Jr. fans were chucking beer cans at Jeff Gordon at Talladega back in 2007. It all boils down to bad fanmanship.
Its ok to be vehement in your support for your driver (or your baseball team, or your football team), but is it really ok to be so insultingly vitriolic against a driver (or team) you don't like (hate)? Does hating a driver make it ok to have such crude and hateful references agains them? Personally I don't think so. Sure, we're all going to have drivers we really can't stand... but is it necessary to have a naughty boy in your driver's colors pissing on the number of the driver you hate? Or chuck beers, or write scatalogical references to them on certain fan forums, or write false references to their sexuality? Those beer chucking fans are like the fans of a certain football team here in the bay area... and they both scare the hell out of me.
I think of the guys who are my favorite drivers, I think of what I know of their personalities... would behaving in this way towards other drivers really be a way to support them, or would it embarrass the hell out of them? Personally, if I were a championship quality Cup driver and saw my fans posting/behaving in that way... I'd be embarrassed!
Another thing to ask oneself would be "how would I feel about my favorite driver if he were to act in the manner that some of his fans do? Would I still be a fan of his, or would I be so put off by the behaviour that I'd look for another driver to support?" I sure as hell wouldn't be a Clint Bowyer or Matt Kenseth fan if they behaved that way. Overall these guys tend to conduct themselves as true sportsmen. Sure they may get fired up from time to time, or make mistakes... they're human and adrenaline makes humans do strange things.
So maybe there needs to be an 'unwritten standard of fandom ethics' that some people need to think about. Support your driver passionately, dislike other drivers just as passionately... but don't be vulgar about it. Don't live up to the 'stereotype' of the NASCAR fan. These guys are out there driving their hearts out, even the ones we think shouldn't be behind the wheel... they deserve at least a little respect in how you dislike them.
I'm interested to "hear" the opinions of others on this subject.