On Monday afternoon, I became very cranky while listening to Jerry Sullivan pitch a fit about Terry Pegula on Schopp and the Bulldog. Honestly, I’m not even sure I can summarize Sully’s point. All I really know for sure is that Jerry was offended by Pegula’s meeting with the board of editors, he’s angry about Tim Connolly’s contract, and he feels that it’s his job to be critical of the Sabres. I was in a bad mood when I turned on the radio, and Jerry’s appearance made it much, much worse. Later on that evening, I instigated a bit of a tussle on Twitter when I responded semi-aggressively to a tweet from Mike Harrington that defended Sully’s WGR appearance. The next thing I knew, Twitter was in a tizzy with everyone yelling about everything.
I don’t like being angry about a conversation I hear on the radio about the Sabres. The fact that I was genuinely upset by Jerry’s appearance on the show made me feel stupid, and it made me feel sort of out of control, and it made me feel like there is something inherently unhealthy about my Sabres fandom.
So, there I was, pissed off, and poised at the computer, about to dig in for a fight with Mike Harrington on twitter, when, a light bulb suddenly went on over my head. Wait. Hold on, Kate. What are you doing?
I had a moment of clarity.
It basically boils down to this: I follow the Sabres for enjoyment. Anything that interferes with that fundamental enjoyment is not worth my time, it’s not worth my consumer dollars, and it’s not worth my intellectual energy. If some secondary element of my Sabres experience (Twitter, WGR, TBN, blogs) is upsetting me, it’s entirely within my power to walk away.
So, I stood up and walked away from the computer. In an instant I decided that I would not be reading Sullivan’s columns or listening to his radio appearances in the future, and I realized that I need to seriously rethink how I use Twitter.
I will no longer allow outside influences to interfere with my enjoyment of the Sabres, at least not without at fight. It was Jerry Sullivan on the radio that led me to make this promise to myself, but it applies to a couple of things, most significantly, Twitter. In some small way, I am wounded by every toxic tweet that I read, and I need to take responsibility for that, and I need to weed out the voices that I find destructive. And most of all, I need to make sure that my output reflects who I am as a person. Twitter should not be a dumping ground for negativity. I need to make sure that my contribution to the conversation is not primarily in response to the people I respect the least.
Becoming a Sabres fan is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s provided countless hours of fun, and I’ve met so many wonderful people as a result my fandom. This is going to sound very cheesy, but one of my favorite things about rooting for a team is how it opens my heart up a bit. Being a fan makes me feel a little vulnerable, in both good and bad ways. The vulnerability is good because during the process of rooting for the Sabres I become more receptive to joy, and more open to hopefulness. The vulnerability is bad because all of that openness makes bitterness sting a little more. I have to admit, I wasn’t just offended by Jerry Sullivan on Monday. I was also a little bit hurt by him.
This post is my first attempt to actively defend myself against the Jerry Sullivans of this world. (One of the things the newspaper guys love to say in defense of negative articles is, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Please listen carefully to me right now. I am NOT shooting the messenger. I’m rejecting the messenger.) I used to think I could just ignore the negativity, or make fun of it until it didn’t bother me, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. I think I need to be a little more proactive. Periodically, I have to remind myself of the kind of sports fan I want to be, and I need to make sure that I’m actually being that fan.
Optimistic and open-hearted fans must remain vigilant, and we must stick together. We can control this thing. We can take over the interwebs, and we can create our own way of talking about the Sabres. We can be braver, funnier, kinder, and more insightful than them.
The Jerrys speak loudly, but we don’t have to listen.