*It is with great personal disgust that I had to correct the misspelling of Morrissey’s name. I beg your forgiveness.
I am surely dating myself with this reference, but it seems a perfect fit. Anyone aware of the band The Smiths is also aware of their lead singer, Morrissey. His freshman release as a solo artist yielded a single called Suedehead, consisting of the following lyrics.
Why do you come here?
And why, why do you hang around?
I’m so sorry, oh...
I’m so sorry, oh, oh...
Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me?
Years ago I wrote for Big Cat Country, when the site was much less popular, and Jaguars Twitter was not even an idea. Our content was more directed towards entertainment, as opposed to what BCC has become, which is a site referenced by local and national media. The flame of opportunity to once again be a part of the community of writers was ignited upon reading the request for anyone interested in joining BCC, but I had to ask myself: Why?
In the years since leaving the masthead it has been entertaining, informative, and annoying to read articles, along with their comments section. Towards the latter, there has been the typical contrarians and trolls, but also a wealth of analytical knowledge surrounding a myriad of topics. My favorite commentators have always been those who take the context of NFL football for what I see as its nature, which is an entertainment medium. Yes, it’s a business, but as fans that’s a detached reality, as much as those folks who are part of the Hollywood industry are in relation to cinema.
Jaguars Twitter extended the reach of BCC, creating both a vitriolic and comedic culture. One that has deceived the national media, created any number of enemies, but has also fostered fan rivalries where none might have existed. One might argue without Jaguars Twitter there would be no gifting of garbage cans to AFC South opponents.
So what degree of relevance is my voice to the culture? Again, why re-join? Or as Morrissey sang, “Why do you come here?”
A recent tweet by Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner aided my thought process. He had been watching our playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was under-impressed by running back Leonard Fournette’s performance.
Local sports media, specifically Dan Hicken on his morning sportstalk radio show, reacted with understandable rage. These are our Jaguars. Fournette is our star rookie running back. It was a game the Jaguars dominated early and hung onto win. What hour did Renner watch? Leonard isn’t breaking tackles during commercial breaks, timeouts, or while running into the tunnel for half-time. I can recall at least half a dozen times Fournette broke tackles, but not when. And then I got to thinking... did he really “break” tackles? Was Mike operating under a completely different expectation of what breaking a tackle is?
Outside of Mike’s observation, was Dan really that angry? Maybe. Or maybe it was just for show. Act angry, get the callers angry, generate phone calls.
The question of “Why do you come here?” had broadened its reach, not as a question for me writing for BCC, but me as a fan. In doing so, it also became a question for anyone participating in the NFL experience as a fan via any media source. Do you come to the event to be entertained? Do you come to the message board to debate? Do you come to Twitter in search of “triggers”?
The great philosopher Aristotle wrote:
The family is the association established by nature for the supply of man’s everyday wants.
A sports fan base is no different than a family. There are crazy uncles, over affectionate grandmothers, fun cousins, and mysterious aunts. In difference to Aristotle’s quote, it is not natural. The fan base is chosen, but is done so for a want. We want to be around those with a common passion for the team we love. There is a craving to have the shared experience of winning, or, as pathetic as it sounds, suffering through dark times. For the latter, there is an even greater bond when success finally rears it’s head once more.
It is this success that warns us. It tells our why that things have changed. No longer are we, Jaguars fans, defending our younger sibling from the other bullies. We are relevant. We are popular. The “Why?” has changed. Some will come to join the bandwagon. Others will see the recent success as a bigger target for attack. For some this is new territory.
My daughter became Jaguars aware just after the 2007, and has only known the misery of losing. Her perspective on defending the Jaguars is predicated on not knowing success, and she has very strong opinions about teams that dis-respected our team, and quarterback (I’m looking at you Seattle). In fact, her recent trip to Seattle required her to display her Jaguars attire as often as possible.
What, then, is my “Why”? I love a cultural fan base that doesn’t take itself too seriously. One who is capable of hanging with the opponent without the potential for violent language or action. That family member who does what they can to keep the family together. That guy that is cool with teal-colored-glasses if it fits the attire.
It is easier to want to be part of the family when you have folks like MMQB picking your team third in their pre-season power poll. But with the lauding, comes those who seek to poison the pool. In either case, the challenge is not allowing this to change your “Why” by seeing them as some threat, for example, to your intelligence. Taking their arguments to fall short or reason, and lacking true criticality. Our “Why” cannot be self-defeating. If we find Bills Mafia offensive and Neanderthal, why be them?
Referring back to Morissey’s lyric, he asked the question of why you come around when your presence is making it “hard for me”? My ask is that we, as a fan base, find a way to have a shared “Why?” and one that doesn’t make the Jaguars culture hard for anyone to come around. I suggest this knowing full well there are those who feed off the confrontation. Best not to change them, because at times they react on our behalf.
I look forward to entertaining you.