Not so long ago, the agitated sports fan had very few options when it was time to blow off steam.
A bitter and disappointed supporter could either call a sports phone-in show (where just about everyone comes off sounding mad as a hatter) or torture friends with a beer-fueled rant on how it all went wrong, who sucked and why.
But our high-tech information age provides new opportunites for sports fans to express themselves, through blogs, message boards, online chats and the like. The public conversation is no longer reserved for journalists and broadcasters. That's a good thing, but not all good. Here's a recent comment left on this blog by someone identified as "Beerme."
"All night long oilers were running Detroit players, leaving their feet to deliver checks, and NEVER failing to face wash or cross-check any Detroit player that even approached Roloson, but Schneids knocking down a player who was whacking at Legace trying to cover a puck was 'roughing'?
The Oilers played a great defensive series and found a way to win. They should be applauded for that. The fact that it included hundreds of instances of interference, roughing and charging, that were just enough to not be called should be blamed on the officiating. They did what they could get away with. I only hope that Toronto didnít make calls like the kicked-in tying goal because it was a Canadian team against an American teamÖ"
As you might have guessed, Mr. or Ms. Beerme is a Detroit fan distraught over the demise of the Red Wings. Anyone who has spent a little time on sports blogs or message boards will recognize the style: the semi-coherent cry of injustice; the dark hints of conspiracy; the convenience of anonymity.
Beerme is not an extreme example, but a fairly typical voice among hockey fans at the computer after a heart-breaking loss or controversial play. To join the online discussion is to wade through acres of delirious bluster about how the referees are screwing MY team and how dirty and insidious THE OTHER team is and how all the dark forces of the world and the NHL are aligned against MY noble heroes.
Who knew the hockey community included so many blinkered, finger-pointing whiners?
Postscript: For a more lucid view from a Detroit fan, including a more sensible assessment of the refereeing in the series, check out On the Wings