On Wednesday, fax machines will be operational for the first and only time all year and grown men will stay home from work to watch high school athletes apply unique pieces of headwear to showcase their future destination. It’s National Signing Day, and my goodness has the whole thing escalated rather quickly.
College football’s offseason is personified by this event. Well, that and SEC Media Days which is also approaching Barnum and Bailey Status. NSD, however, is a special kind of day where expectations drive the car. These expectations have created lucrative scouting services/websites, marathon TV coverage and an entire new batch of fans who check the latest recruiting news like you used to check your Facebook before it – and the people who use it – really started to suck.
The passionate fans are wonderful; they are the reason that someone could possibly create a blog titled “Kegs ‘n Eggs.” They are also capable of some very wicked things around this time, some of which have been documented already. When an athlete or athletes choose not to attend [insert random university] people react to it in ways they shouldn’t.
[Adjusts soapbox, readies rant]
On Wednesday, thousands of talented athletes will be making decisions about their future for what we HOPE will be for the right reasons. They don’t care about the terrible flag you hang from your car on game day or the regrettable tattoo that you have on your right shoulder that you’ve been saying you’ll have “touched up” for the last eight years.
Forget the fact that these kids have only recently learned how to drive an automobile, but recognize that your passion for your school means absolutely nothing in this process. It’s nothing personal about you, the fan base, your school, your coaches or the state of the program. It’s terrifying that this needs to be said, but I fear that this important piece of information won’t hit those that will be guilty of this tomorrow and beyond.
Don’t be that guy that harasses someone because they didn’t come to your school. Don’t be that guy that proclaims shenanigans in the recruiting process because you’re bitter and perhaps mildly intoxicated. (Unless you have proof, then send it here and we’ll get SO MANY WEBSITE HITS). Don’t be the epic sort of douchebag that harasses a player on Twitter. Please, if this is you, disconnect your 56K modem and go smash your head against the drywall for a few hours if you somehow think this was a good idea. No further damage will be done at this point.
There’s a thin line between excitement and anger on National Signing Day and unfortunately fans appear to be crossing it more and more. It’s easy to cross the line now with the message board mob mentality that can escalate beyond acceptable levels. On that note, visit message boards for the teams that lose out on Dorial Green-Beckham and watch the madness that ensues.
Twitter and Facebook are a new terrorizing piece of technology and that direct contact with high schoolers is far too much access than many deserve. On Twitter, you don’t even need a name or a picture of your face to raise hell. An egg avatar and a fake name and you’re all set to harass someone for NOT putting on the hat you wanted them to wear.
99% of the fans out there are great fans that love and support their teams. The remaining 1% is a loud bunch that didn’t get the memo on acceptable human behavior. There will always be bat-shit crazy and there’s nothing that you can say or do that will change that. But there is also a grey area in this that seems to turn decent folks into a new form on Internet idiot. The decisions of a talented 18-year-old seem to bring out the worst in good people. This is sad but very real.
Please, by all means, enjoy National Signing Day. But please do responsibly. Accept the fact that not every player considers your school their dream destination (unless that player is Todd Graham and he will transfer in a year anyway), and enjoy this college football holiday. And if you know someone readying their irrational Internet biceps, do your best to convince them otherwise.