A Continuation on the Topic of Toxicity in Sports

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I’ve been writing about the Hurricanes here at Calm Before the Storm for almost two years now and I’ve loved every second of it. I’ve been able to come on to Canes twitter and make jokes and friends with a lot of people, and I wouldn’t trade these friendships for the world. A lot of people reading this probably know me over @CanesNetfront for the occasional analysis mixed in among the terrible jokes about… well, anything. Some of you probably know me from @CanesProspects, and for those of you that didn’t know, you’re probably contemplating hitting that mute button right now. I’ve been lucky enough to make lifelong connections on Twitter through the Netfront account, which was my main hockey account up until the start of 2018. I can’t stress enough how wonderful these connections have been. I’ll be continuing the discussion that Jonathan created with his post yesterday. Toxicity in sports is so real and it happens in every sport. It’s not just hockey, but that’s mostly my experience with it. Check out Jonathan’s article here.

I started off as a person fresh out of high school that simply enjoyed the Hurricanes. I built connections, went to tailgates, and had a couple of decent tweets. I tried to avoid being too negative, but I also realized that this was what was going to get me more likes. Shockingly, a millennial was toxic on social media. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been toxic. It’s fun to say things that you might not believe on twitter and just watch the likes pour in. Over time, I stopped enjoying being so damn negative all of the time. My love for the sport was declining and I wasn’t able to bring myself to watch the Hurricanes nightly like I used to. I ended up re-branding before Calm Before the Storm was created in order to rekindle my love for the team. It worked out for me and I was able to see this team in a new light. We had good prospects and a bright future, and I saw all of this. Calm Before the Storm was meant to be a blog centered around optimism for the team. We weren’t looking to change the mood of Canes twitter entirely or to be the mood police. All of us were just looking to find a creative outlet for all of our optimism and to hopefully get some other folks as excited about the team as we were.

I won’t get into the toxicity that started CBTS simply because it’s been said a lot already. We’ve told our story. Memes have been made about it (thanks Pacefalm) and what’s needed to be said has been said. It’s done and I’ve moved on from all of that. What I’m here to talk about is how toxicity in sports is hard to escape and why sometimes it’s just best to remove yourself from it entirely. I’d say that 2016-2017 was a pretty great year for me on Canes twitter. I found a great outlet for my depression and was able to actually cope with it in a fairly healthy way. It was fantastic for me and I was making a lot of friends. The team may not have been great, but I was having fun, and that’s all that I could have ever asked for. Removing myself from twitter for a few weeks in 2018 was one of the hardest things to do, but I had to do it unless I wanted to continue feeling terrible. My own personal frustrations with the team mixed with a Canes twitter that drove away a lot of my friends was not a healthy combination for me. When you’re constantly surrounded by the same negativity that has been on Canes twitter for a year or two, it gets annoying. Lots of factors went into my removal from Canes twitter. I kept seeing a lot of folks get frustrated with the team and start to just attack others for trying to enjoy it. “I’m not happy so nobody else is allowed to be happy” is a strange way to go about handling yourself online. Let people enjoy it. I’m not going to tell you to be happy as long as you don’t tell me to be negative. Hockey twitter as a whole also makes it very hard for people to get into the sport, which is another reason why I tried to remove myself. Lots of new accounts that were based around negativity kept following me and I was getting some weird mentions about how this team was terrible like I was able to fix things. My friends were also getting on my nerves a bit and making it hard for me to enjoy the Hurricanes as I once did. I removed myself for a few weeks to just clear my head and watch the team in peace.

I started this off by saying that I’ve been toxic in the past. It’s true, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been toxic in the past and the present. I’ll probably contribute to toxicity on hockey twitter in the future, too. We’re all guilty of it, whether we know it or not. Being negative about something isn’t a bad thing and shouldn’t be removed from twitter. Sometimes it’s good to let out your frustrations. Confining myself to the prospects account has allowed for me to remove myself from most of the negativity since I don’t follow much of anyone in Canes twitter. Recently, tweeting pretty much anything about Adam Fox causes Canes twitter to get excited about him. He’s a great prospect that people should be excited for. I’ll admit that I sometimes lurk on my hockey account to see the reaction to certain things. Usually a few accounts will tweet “Fox won’t sign with the Hurricanes lmao” or something related to that and ruin people’s excitement. Seeing stuff like that every day is what caused me to confine myself to the prospects account. It takes every ounce of my strength for me to not embody this meme when I see stuff like that.

I’ve been surprised with the positive reception I’ve gotten over there. I used to be surprised when I had a positive interaction on Canes twitter. It happens almost daily now, which is so amazing.

No sport following is perfect. There are always going to be people that ruin things for others. That’s just the nature of social media. It sucks but that’s what the mute feature is for. As fans of a “non-traditional market” team, we should all be used to being talked down to by fans of bigger teams. There are always the toxic people that use homophobic slurs, words to describe people as mentally handicapped, racist language, or other vulgar items. Or there are the sexist people that troll female journalists and hockey fans for the sheer fun of it. That happens in every sport and it’s truly sickening. Blocking and reporting those people is probably the best way to go. Trying to interact with them and fight them online is just giving them what they want. It’s an invitation to spread toxicity. Those people are few and far between, so it’s best to just block and move on.

I apologize for rambling a bit in this article. It’s hard to focus on one particular form of toxicity in sports when it takes on so many forms. There is nothing that I want more than to be more involved on Canes twitter. It’s a fun place most of the time that I’ve made a lot of connections on. Sometimes it’s best to just remove yourself from something in order to love the sport again. For those of you that made it this far, thank you. I’m serious when I say that you’re all friends of mine. I’d love to start more friendships and discuss hockey with all of you. Don’t be afraid to shoot me a DM on either account to talk hockey or to ask when I’m coming to a game. Hockey is a passion of mine and I’ll never shy away from a discussion or a friendship. If you have a prospects question, just mention Canes Prospects or DM me. I want to make this a fun place for people and interact with fans more often. You’re all amazing and I hope that you all enjoy the rest of your day and the rest of the season.

Matt

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