By JEFF WELSCH,
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Looking for LOL in all the wrong places?
Wonder what it’s like to be DOH?
Have the urge to express your POV while cloaked in the security of anonymity?
Then look no further than your local college athletic team’s Internet message board, IMHO.
If you’re a devoted fan yet haven’t been exposed to one of these wildly proliferating mediums, you either …
* Are over 60 years old and would rather spend an afternoon in a dentist’s chair than fire up a computer, or * Sleeping under a rock, or
* Have a life.
For the unitiated, Internet message boards are the extremist wings of schools’ fan bases, continually waging a jihad of blind faith on behalf of the home team against the infidels down the road.
They are cyber watering holes, techno-pubs where diehards banter about teams, players and coaches without the fear of getting clubbed over the head with an empty beer bottle.
Rumors are spread, gossip exchanged and opinions shared with a zeal possible only because truck-driver handles are used instead of actual names.
For instance, at Montana State’s fan site, called BobcatNation.com, regular “posters” have the monikers BelgradeBobcat, mslacat, kmax, WYCAT and CARDIAC CATS, among others.
These boards aren’t sanctioned by the athletic programs – indeed, most administrators and coaches, though drawn to them like drivers to a car wreck, wish they would go the way of five-point touchdowns and two-handed set shots – but their influence is undeniable.
Coaches have closed practices because boosters put videotapes online or reported injuries, new plays and lineup shuffles.
A single item about a beleaguered coach can quickly mushroom to a fever pitch and grease the skids of a hasty dismissal.
At one school, what began as a message-board rumor that the star quarterback was to be hauled before a federal grand jury on drug charges became fact within days.
Television trucks from across the state set up shop in front of the courthouse and waited for the player’s arrival.
When he never appeared, one reporter finally ventured inside to inquire when the proceedings were to start.
“What are you talking about?” was the reply from a court official who was bewildered by the media crush.
Typically, these message boards are good for little more than lots of laughs (LOL), with points of view (POV) that can leave visitors deliriously overcome with hilarity (DOH), in my humble opinion (IMHO).
Nevertheless, these web sites have become enormously popular, so as a public service from a reporter who is neither over 60 nor sleeping under a rock – Apparently, I need a life – I’m offering a free primer for the unitiated.
* The home team is the paragon of virtue; all others, especially the arch-rival, are the embodiment of everything evil.
At BobcatNation.com, Montana State faithful are unquestionably the Big Sky Conference’s most knowledgeable, exuding class and loyalty in victory and defeat, while Montana’s are arrogant, whiny, bandwagon-hoppers.
At eGriz.com, Montana faithful are unquestionably the league’s most knowledgeable, exuding class and loyalty in victory and defeat, while MSU’s are insecure, whiny, bandwagon-jumpers.
* The league’s referees are worse than the local junior-high circuit, and clearly have a vendetta against “us.”
But it’s futile to complain to the commissioner, an incompetent boob who hates “us” and hired the incompetent supervisor of officials who hired the incompetent officials in the first place.
* The arch-rival can never, ever be called by its actual nickname.
At BobcatNation, it isn’t the Grizzlies, it’s “The Friz.” At Michigan State, it isn’t Michigan, it’s “ScUM.” At Oregon State, it isn’t Oregon, it’s the “Ucks.” At Oregon, it isn’t the Beavers, it’s the “Rodents.”
* If one of “our” players is arrested for an altercation at a local pub, it’s surely an aberration, most likely an understandable error in judgment by a good guy who was goaded by drunk students and cuffed by officers eager to bag a high-profile athlete.
If it happens at the arch-rival school, it’s clearly a case of lack of institutional control, proof positive of their willingness to win at any cost, and merely the tip of an ugly iceberg that begs the NCAA’s scrutiny.
* If posters are calling for a coach’s head, then “they” just lost “their” last game.
If posters are calling for a lifetime contract, then t”we” just won “our” last game.
* Posters who venture over from the evil arch-rival’s site are moronic “trolls” whose only mission is to “flame” on the virtuous.
Not that rules aren’t broken, of course.
For instance, at BobcatNation and eGriz, perhaps because the fan bases are smaller and the stakes lower, discussion definitely is more reasoned than at elite programs’ sites.
Still, if you’ve been looking for LOL in all the wrong places, any is worth a visit.
You’ll soon be ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing).