Now this is likely to simply come off as hypocritical and condescending….but that hasnt stopped me or others before, so why let it stop us now. The face you see above is not of anyone in particular….well actually it is of someone in particular, but I dont know who that person is. But it does represent the newest, relatively powerful force in the world of sports, that of the internet fan.
For those of you who were away from your computers this weekend (and I hope that was most of you), you missed yet another round of “Tubby is gone, people are buying him out” type rumors. These rumors have popped up every so often over the past couple of months and are usually accompanied by some story about how “powerful” boosters with a lot of pull in the University are about to pay an astronomical sum of money in order to get Tubby Smith to leave so that the basketball program can be “taken back.” The source of these rumors changes, be it from the folks at Dynasty Defenders, some internet “insiders” or just people who heard from a friend who heard from Patrick Sparks’ girlfriend.
I am not here to discuss the truth or lack thereof of this story. I think there have been some movements by those with more money than sense to get Tubby to leave and I have always said that there was more to the possibility of him bolting (although not because of these boosters) than some would believe. Having said that, the conspiracy theories of Lee Todd and Mitch Barnhart working to get Tubby out at UK are just ludicrous. Those men are big fans of Tubby, as they should be, and he will be here until HE wants to leave.
But what we have found out recently is that the nameless internet poster now has garnered some power. Whether it is recruits saying they read message boards and take what they see to heart (both Dan Werner and 2007 recruit Patrick Patterson have both recently admitted to taking into consideration the tone of fan sites), coaches having to be asked about baseless rumors in interviews or Alan Cutler finding some random internet “source” to put on his radio show, random stories on the internet now have meaning. Thus anyone with a computer and with their mother’s password onto AOL can cause a controversy that can sweep a major college program, all without any ramifications and no accountability.
None of this is to say that message boards or blogs such as this are bad. But folks need to realize that there are consequences to what is said everywhere. Members of the UK Athletic Administration read all of these sites (including, bizarrely, this one), as they understand what is at stake. There is NO DOUBT that Kentucky has lost at least one and maybe more recruits due to the tone sat on these boards. In addition, at other schools, comments made on message boards have led to eligibility problems, investigations and in some cases, firings….all because a random person decided to let fly with his thoughts.
None of this is to say that these types of forums are negative developments. But the next time you and your buddies decide you want to blast Coach Smith or pass along a rumor you heard about when he may be leaving, it is important to remember that there are people paying attention. And what seems like no big deal to you could really lead to negative ramifications for the program you love.
Having said that, making fun of people like Dwayne Schintizius is always still allowed.