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The State of the Modern Game’s Fans

This will probably come off as the perfect definition of irony, but here goes, I had to get this off my chest as it has been bugging me for the last few days.  I suppose the straw that finally broke the camel’s back happened yesterday when I saw this tweet from Paul Tomkins saying that he would no longer be tweeting, that his twitter account would just be a feed for his website:

From now on, this will just be automatically-generated article/news links from my site.

Just prior to that he had the below tweet:

A lot has been said about me today. Here is my response: http://tomkinstimes.com/2012/05/statement-regarding/

Now, regardless of whether you agree with what Paul has written on his website, and regardless of your stance in the debate on how useful statistics are, you cannot argue that Paul does what he does for the love of all things Liverpool.  Just like all of us, including myself, we are all entitled to our own opinion.  What impresses me about Paul, is that he takes the time to go out there and research his topics and makes a point.  What some people object to most is his use of statistics, with some saying it is not all just about the statistics.  Of course they too are allowed their opinion, and I have seen some very impressive counter arguments made against the use of statistics.

However, what pains me, is the amount of abuse one man has gotten over his opinions.  Here is a guy who has written a number of books, and taken time to research some things (sure he makes some money out of it but if you have an issue with that don’t pay and don’t read what he has to say).  What he has written has led to the current owners asking his opinion in the past, and as a result some people have taken an objection to that.  Now imagine if that were you.  Imagine if John Henry picked up the phone and said to you, “look I’ve just this American guy who loves sports, but I really have no idea what Liverpool means to the fans.  I’ve read your blog/twitter feed/facebook page/heard about you from the drunk man in the pub, and I want to know your opinion on certain things.” What then? What would you do?  Many seem to have stated that Paul does not represent the views of all the fans, and that means it is not right to ask his opinion, but he never has stated this was the view of all the fans.

We all have the same opportunity as Paul, we could all go out there write books, blogs etc. The success of what we write could lead to us being asked for our opinion by the likes of John Henry, all we would have to do is go out there, do the hard work, and get our names out there.  That’s “all” Paul Tomkins has done.  He’s done his bit, and he’s been rewarded by being asked his opinion.  At the same time, with modern technology we all have the same opportunity of spouting our beliefs to anybody, and we can all choose to send emails, just as John Henry can choose to read them all, delete them all, or even print them all out and make paper air planes out of them.

The owners are also not stupid.  They will not take the viewpoint of just one man and base their opinions on that.  Whether you agree with them being in charge or not, they are there in charge and it is their money.  Now those saying they rue they day they took over, then you really are either a) blinkered, b) a newborn to 12 month child c) a new fan or d) an amnesia sufferer.   You cannot argue that they have not supported the manager, look at the amount of money spent so far.  Many have argued that all they spent was Chelsea’s money, but what about this summer?  Fans hate them because they sacked Kenny, but it was also only them that gave Kenny a second chance, when the fans asked for it.  It is now up to them to make a decision to move the club forward.  Now, even if you decide to believe that they’re only in it for the money, well if that’s the case they’re still going to have to do right by the club.  A club that consistently finishes outside the top 4, and winning a Carling Cup will not make the owners masses of wealth.  For them to succeed the club has to succeed, but at least, unlike the last owners, they understand that some investment has to be made for success to come.

Now people have had opinions since time began, nothing has really changed there.  The only thing that has changed is that nowadays it is very easy for the average man to be able to voice that opinion to a bigger audience.  That one guy who before would be hurling abuse at his television, with no response back can now go on twitter and voice his opinion to a hundreds of people possibly thousands.  That man down the pub who knows the answer to all the problems can now blog to a larger audience than his 5 mates in the pub.  That is certainly not a bad thing.  I mean after all, the only reason a handful of you are reading this is purely because of that technology.  Otherwise I would be shouting abuse at the television, or making these points to those in the pub around me, or maybe even lecturing my cats about it.

The problem is that in the past before somebody would make the effort to preach to the masses, they might at least try and get some research done, or even think their ideas through.  You certainly would not have had somebody publishing a book whereby every single page was a tirade of abuse at somebody else (except maybe a man by the name of Adolf).  Nowadays though, anybody can get a twitter account, and anybody can follow anybody and nothing stops them being able to give their opinions and with it abuse.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind arguments and debates.  I actually prefer to have somebody offer an alternative opinion to mine, so that some intelligent discussion can take place.  Maybe I can learn something new, or maybe I can educate somebody a little.  That is after all the whole point of being an intelligent species, the ability to further ourselves.  However, in this day and age where people lose interest after the first 140 characters, it becomes all too easy for somebody to dismiss your argument with a simple comeback, some of which gets very puerile.  Those out there looking to put out a thought out argument then face a difficult decision.

Do they go out there and put their long thought out argument, with some sort of evidence of their opinion, or do they keep it brief so as to “appeal” to everybody.  A long thought out argument ends up being met with TLDR (“too long didn’t read”) or just flat out ignored.  People will read the first paragraph, or even just the title, and base their opinion on just that if you’re lucky, or they may just not bother reading as they saw it was way over the 140 characters limit where they lose interest.

Alternatively they could summarise their opinion into a brief sentence, and suddenly they find themselves being read by more people, but getting back similarly brief responses.  It’s very hard to put across a decent argument in say a tweet, and as a result people read that small text and fire back their own response.  Now a lot of times, I have had some good discussions on Twitter but I find myself having to use multiple tweets to put forward a simple idea.  It never feels like a proper discussion, more of a distracted conversation with somebody.

The thing is however, that generally speaking those giving the abuse tend to not see anything wrong in what they are doing and they will keep doing it.  Even if they get abuse back, they will no doubt have their own caveman response, and will continue on their merry way.  On the other hand, those that do take the time to research their arguments will come across those that just dismiss them and they’ll soon come to the realisation that you can’t “win”.  So you figure just ignore them, not worth your time to respond to them.  That then means that the world loses out.  The ratio of fuckwits to sensible people just got worse because one of the good guys has figured that there is no point to wasting his time bringing his researched thoughts to the general table.

It is not just Twitter either, you only have to go as far as the forums on the main website.  Fans slating the owners with sensationalist thread titles and very little substance to their posts:

If you seriously want the likes of John Henry to read your posts and take it all into account you’re going to have to do better than a few lines of hate.  Both posts have a point to make, but they are made in a very brief way, with the majority of the post being hateful.  My objections to Kenny going is that we have now had 3 managers in 3 years.  However, I can also see where the owners are coming from.  They seem to want a manager for the future, a man that can show progress for the money they put into the club.  If that man has a 5 year plan that they agree with, they want a man who would after those 5 years still have enough time to hopefully stay at the club and build another golden era.  Kenny may well have been the man to bring us back glory but in 4 years time he may well be quitting just as he gets us there.  Then what happens?  Remember when he left last time, what happened in the long run?

The sacking of Kenny Dalglish should bring about debate.  We would not be the great club that we are without intelligent debate amongst the fans.  Similarly the performance of all players and Kenny himself should also be debated.  I mean after all, we finished 8th in the league and that is pitiful.  However, modern day technology seems to have brought with it a mass of “fans” that do not seem to understand the ethos of the club.  The irony is, that the ethos of the club is actually summed up in language that they should be able to understand, language that easily falls into the world of Twitter.  It is simply Y.N.W.A.  Those are not just some random letters, they stand for You’ll Never Walk Alone.  Those fans who are so quick to jump on the abuse wagon will do well to go out there, find the lyrics to the song, and just listen to them, and try to understand their meanin.  I’ll even make it easier for you:

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk

You’ll never walk
You’ll never walk alone.

Just because a fellow fan has an opinion that is different to yours does not mean he deserves abuse.  By all means have a discussion, bring up your arguments, and for the love of mankind/God/your pets/whatever you believe in, get past the 140 character mentality.  Read something from start to finish, then make a counter argument based on what you read.  If you have a well thought out counter argument and they come back with a puerile response to you, take it as you winning.  You’ve done your bit, you’ve made your point.

Thankfully, the likes of Einstein came before the modern age.  Can you imagine the following:

@albieE: E=MC^2

@randomphysicist: @albieE Dude shut the fuck up that makes no sense

@albieE: @randomphysicist trust me, just go look at my blog: blog.albiethegenius.com explained in detail

@randomphysicist: @albieE Dude went there TL:DR bunch of bullshit. Just die.

@albie#: @randomphysicist but I’m published and I’ve been asked to give a talk to other physicists

@randomphysicist: @albieE nobody gives a shit about your opinion.  Who are to represent US physicists?

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