As we’ve already discussed, the Bulldogs’ face plant on national television Saturday night was plenty embarrassing by itself, but that was nothing compared with the classless display of pique that transpired later that night at the Athens home of some team members.
As was first revealed in a Twitter posting by linebacker Christian Robinson, the house he shares with quarterback Aaron Murray and several other players was egged and rolled with toilet paper after the blowout loss to South Carolina.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for Murray, who learned the day after the game that his father would have to have cancer surgery, part of what he described as “probably the worst 12 hours of my life.”
While the idiots responsible for the vandalism no doubt were unaware of the situation with Murray’s father at the time they were engaged in their childish act, the two bits of news naturally got connected in national news mentions, including on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” — exacerbating the damage to the Georgia football program’s image and, probably, its recruiting efforts as well.
A disillusioned Robinson, after returning home to find the vandalism in Athens, tweeted, “Seems that people turn on you when you’re not perfect. Thought we were in this together.”
At least one tweeter, who may or may not have been involved in the vandalism, responded: “We didn’t turn on u cause u aren’t perfect we turned because u didn’t put up a fight … your play deserve egging.”
I find that response every bit as moronic as the act that was being discussed.
I agree with one caller to this week’s “Bulldog Hotline,” who said that anyone who would commit an act like that is not a fan. They’re a criminal.
But while I truly believe that only a tiny fraction of fandom thinks like that, I can’t deny it’s a part of the sports scene today. As I noted a few months back when I wrote about some of the positive aspects of extreme fandom in college football, UGA is not alone in that regard — whether it’s the poisoning of trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner, sexually humiliating a fan from an opposing team or even fatally shooting each other over the outcome of games.
I’ve seen plenty of disgusting behavior over the years by fans in red and black, and in this very forum I’ve experienced firsthand the depths to which the lunatic fringe of Bulldog fandom can sink. I recall a few years back having to ban one UGA fan because of language he’d used in the Blawg comments. This was shortly after my Dad had been hospitalized, and when I refused to reinstate the commenter, he sent me an email saying he looked forward to the day my father died.
And then had the gall to follow that up with another note asking if I’d changed my mind!
Obviously, we’re not talking about the sharpest knives on the rack here.
Fortunately, the Georgia players don’t appear to blame Bulldog fans in general. “It’s a small group,” Robinson said this week. “That’s what I’ve been hearing and that’s what people have been talking about. It’s a small group of people. Right when I sent out that tweet, I had probably 700 people tweeting me reminding me of that.”
When I put the question to Junkyard Blawg followers on Facebook and Twitter — Is this just a few isolated morons or is fandom getting out of control? — the majority seemed to agree with Robinson.
“They’re not real fans,” said Johnathan Tatman of the vandals. “I may have cussed [Murray] and the rest of the team for 4 quarters and wanted to puke, but a real fan will not do something so childish to their team.”
Some looked at the bigger picture. “I think it’s indicative of the way the world is now,” said Marcus P. Cannon. “Look at Kansas City’s fans applauding Matt Cassel’s injury on Sunday. Sick people. But you add alcohol to young dumb college kids and they throw eggs.”
Said Luke Jeffrey Mills VIII: “I think this is a sign of where our society is headed. Granted there will always be the core that will support through thick and thin, but it seems prevalent that the fringes are the ones with the loudest voices. Just look at fandom in pro sports and how it’s getting out of control, and compare that with politics. It’s getting to the point where it’s my team/affiliation is the best and you’re stupid for cheering/agreeing with the opposing side. Infantilism is running rampant in America.”
Alan Cason complained that “the lunatic fringe always gets the publicity. It’s the true fans who continue to support the guys who are representing Georgia on the field that should get some PR.”
Reggie Warren feels criticism of the team was deserved after the South Carolina game, “but retaliation, threats, and vandalism are criminal and despicable.”
“As a former player,” said Michael Kavouklis, “I was mad at the the outcome and I was embarrassed by our team’s poor performance, but they don’t deserve this type of treatment. It’s frustrating to all of us when we lose ALL of the really big, significant games for the last four years BUT HAVE SOME CLASS!!! It’s still a game and we will have our day. Show the recruits why they should come here, not why they should stay away from a bunch of stupid, ignorant fair weather fans who think that they are the only ones disappointed by the outcome. TRUST ME, the players are already hurting more than you can imagine. Fans can only share the credit if they support their team in the bad times as well as the good times. As embarrassing as the loss to SC was, these idiots are 1000 times more embarrassing to the UGA community!”
And that’s the bottom line we should all take away from this, I think. The team did not play well and the coaches did not do a good job. And it’s completely valid for fans to say so. But we should always keep in mind that the players are college students, not hardened professionals. Pouring salt in an open wound, as the Dogs’ Artie Lynch put it, isn’t going to help matters. Let’s keep the emotional connection between fans and players a healthy one that both can benefit from.
And while it’s perfectly OK to be concerned about and frustrated by the direction of the Georgia football program, we should keep it in perspective and not overreact to one loss.
As Michael Askins put it: “I love college football and I get emotional when the Dawgs lose a game. But I remember that it is just that … a game. There are a lot more important things in life than winning a football game.”
Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics? Or maybe a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg