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Should Cal Sports Internet Fans Be More Positive?

In his live chat with Okanes a few days ago, our esteemed head coach Jeff Tedford made a plea he has reiterated several times (HT Cugel!)

The most positive way the fans can help is by providing unconditional support for the program. I have noticed in this day and age of blogging, message boards, etc., that people are eager to give negative opinions. While I understand the frustration from time to time, there is nothing positive that comes from that. It doesn’t make for a positive environment for our players and coaches and only provides fuel for negativity in recruiting, which is used against us. So if you want to help, stay positive. It will go much further than the negativity.

As a fan, I try my best to be neither positive nor negative about our program, but as practical as possible. Maybe our site is a little more on the positive side than others, but we feel that it provides a better fan experience for fellow Golden Bears, and it does kind of suck to be angry and bitter about everything. We all don't mind criticism of coaches and players, we just want to make sure people back it up with evidence, with facts, with knowledge. You know, the way you would have learned it if you went to Cal.

Some members of the Golden Bear community have decided to go the other way about this, spreading misinformation. While we won't begrudge them their right to do so, we can only say that this negativity has the potential to poison the recruiting environment and the fan experience. Think about that the next time before you hit the publish button on your comments.

I do feel our Internet fans are very good compared to most message boards (and CGB has some of the best), but we still could be better, and we should try our best to avoid situations like the ones above. In this day and age, young athletes are always searching for what people think about them. Considering how small the media coverage is on the Golden Bears, they are always looking for what fans of the teams they committed to think of them. When it comes to recruiting, they will always look at Rivals, at ESPN, and at Scout (I'd like to think they look at CGB, but I know we're still miles away from being the first stop for Cal recruits), and it's important for the members of those sites to be respectful, trust the coaching staff (who have always been strong at recruiting), and exercising prudence until all the information comes out.

How positive should Internet fans be?

After the jump, I point out behavior that probably bothers Tedford and the majority of reasonable Cal fans.

While Tedford didn't give clearcut examples as to what particularly bothered him, I'm guessing it has a lot to do with the recent recruiting news concerning the Harper and Dunn decommits and the receivers we found to replace them. When unheralded Kaelin Clay and Terrance Montgomery were brought on board, several Cal recruiting message boards erupted with several rather nasty threads. It apparently got so bad on Scout that Kaelin's Clay mom went on there and said how hurt she was by what some of the commenters said about her son (HT Spazzy). These threads have thankfully been deleted.

I do believe it is essential for message board moderators at other sites to crack down on negative comments concerning recruits. If you rave and rant about how much our class blows or is falling apart or these guys are too slow, too weak, etc., then you are hurting our team. One moderator/editor from a prominent recruiting site came to some pretty big conclusions without even bothering to research this (I will not link to these threads because there is more negative nonsense we'd have to link to too)

I knew there was others receivers on the visit with Clay but Montgomery was nowhere near the radar...and not even in the Scout database until recently...not only did he not have offers, no schools came by to visit...we're talking about a kid playing in LA not some small school in Central Cali

I have not seem him play, but from those I know who've seem him play say he is a nice HIGH SCHOOL player...but he doesn't have Pac-10 (or even D1 FBS) size or speed...a lot can change over the course of four-five years in college weight and nutrition program...

but Cal, or any Pac-10 school for that matter, shouldn't be in the position to scholarship "projects" when there is plenty of talent in the Bay Area/NorCal alone with the size and speed to come in and compete right away

some kids have the size, some have the speed...the ones with both are can't miss D1 prospects with multiple offers...the ones with either speed or size are often offered D1 as well...the ones with neither speed or size usually have to walk on to prove themselves at the D1 level or play at a lower division

maybe there is more to this, maybe Montgomery has gotten bigger and faster since the summer and fall...but right now, I'm dumbfounded

I'm dumbfounded too. Dumbfounded that an editor of a recruiting site (not a commenter, an actual writer for this unnamed site) would leap to such drastic conclusions without bothering to wait for all the information to come out. It's very disappointing that someone in a position of responsibility who's supposed to know what's going on make the plunge into "WTF" mode.

However, what I do find most disturbing is the negativity allowed to run rampant on some sites. One of the lead message board threads on a Cal sports forum is currently titled "LMAO at Cal fans." (and it has to do with us! Awwww, you really like us.) The material itself isn't very incendiary, but geez. Talk about an insulting topic on a Cal football board. The number of responses to that post speak to the quality of moderation on that site.

The person (we'll call him YB) who posted this thread title has shown himself to be a true class individual.

I want to make sure that turds like you don't dominate conversations. And also to make sure everyone knows that you're a turd.

In response to a poster that discusses "how proud [YB is] of regularly using the word "retard.""

At least you're proud of who you are.

Just for true irony's sake, let's take a look at what he says about our criticism of a certain recruiting article.

When you write an article for public consumption, you are going to get people that like what you write and don't like what you write. I suppose if I cared enough about what people thought about 17-18 year old boys playing high school football think, I would follow it more closely. But that since-closed thread shows that we have some real nimrods in our fanbase. If you're going to get that upset about an opinion-based article on football recruiting, then you need to get a life and fast.

If all CGB is capable of is knocking down strawmen, it's no wonder they bend over for the program as much as they do.

Awesome, considering YB has called Cal fans retards, saying anyone who supports the program or writes anything even remotely positive is a homer (including us), and that if we don't accept his "sky is falling, program is mediocre" premise, then we are inconsequential to his world view. Yes, clearly, we are the people with the problems.

(Note: What made the recent brouhaha over the recent critique of that article so maddening was that our criticsm had nothing to do with the critical tone used by the author and was not meant to belittle his credentials, but the factually inaccuracies about how the recruiting process worked in order to justify his opinions. Let's be clear these are two differing issues.)

Oh, but he's just a common troll, right? He'll be banned soon enough, right? Well, after over 12000 posts, we keep on waiting.

Apparently, this unnamed Cal site has decided to dedicate itself to targeting the most negative group of Cal fans on the planet, where the sun never rises and we live in a land of eternal darkness. That such behavior is tolerated on one of the largest Cal boards on the Internet is surprising, and makes you wonder if this site is trying to attract the lowest common denominator of fans. Considering it is one of the most prominent sites, it's a free board, and this member is one of the many nega-Bears who posts on that site, I find this to be a pretty big deal in terms of shaping public perception about Cal Athletics. I hope they do their best to curb this type of disruptive behavior.

Hopefully Cal fans learn to practice optimism. Lord knows they've had half a century to be as negative as they can be. A change in attitude might be exactly what this fanbase needs to begin to see the top again. How can it hurt?