The Proteas have been knocked out of the Cricket World Cup again. With predictable dullness online media has erupted with anger and vitriol.
The pattern never changes. Before a match: unrelenting love and support. After a loss – angry armchair sports experts lay into the team and its individual members with a digital rage that borders on incitement to violence.
Sport is a passionate, emotional thing. International sport more so, for the fans.
We all wish that we were on that team, chasing victory and its attendant glory.
Watching each match, we live ourselves into roles of heroes and victors through our national sports teams. If the team loses, we are gutted – absolute betrayal and disappointment pour into that deep hole so recently vacated by fanatical hope.
We are ANGRY! We are MAD! Someone must pay – someone must feel the brunt of these overwhelming emotions and feel the pain of loss that we feel.
So we turn to Twitter and Facebook and criticise and attack the team, we bemoan the captain, we denigrate and belittle the players, the coaches, the refs and umpires…no one is safe from our strafing tirade.
But here’s the thing…the men and women that are the subject of those tirades of abuse see our words, read our hate-filled, angry judgements. They see cold, critical headlines. AB De Villiers, Grant Elliot, Daniel Vettori and Morne Morkel do not live in isolation. They witness our relentless attacks and criticism.
Surely it must affect them? We’re not talking about one or two people calling them out – we’re talking millions. Millions of angry tweets, comments and headlines, each one like a tiny water droplet of vitriol that over time carves through the rock of their self-confidence, wearing them down, turning them into bitter old men by the time the retire.
Is this the reward they get for years of being top international sportsmen? Bitter ignominy as they play and replay the closest of their losses over and over in their heads, wondering what they could have done differently, to deliver a victory and fleeting praise from a fickle nation?
We are not fans. We are bullies. Angry, hateful bullies hiding behind keyboards, safe in our digital anonymity, knowing we’ll never have to account for how we made another human being feel after they gave it their best, and still lost.
Our intense pride and support melts like butter before a blowtorch in the face of a loss. We cannot truly call ourselves supporters. We are fickle cheerleaders at best.
The wild passion and dismay at the moment of loss seems to justify our puerile binary outbursts. Would we spew such venom if we were face to face with these men and women?
There is no difference between the abuse we fling at these sportsmen and the cyber bullying of immature, thoughtless children on Facebook.
No, it’s quite clear we are not fans. Not by a long shot.
© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.