Thursday, December 13, 2007

Random Thoughts: Team Names, Facebook and the Blogosphere

I've discovered a hockey-related pet peeve: when people use stupid derogatory names for opposing teams. Specifically I am referring to people called the Capitals the 'craps' or 'crapitals'.

Now, I don't have an inherent aversion to teasing teams or their fans by calling them something other than their actual name. I have no problem with people using the terms Rags (Rangers), Kitties (Panthers) or Fishsticks (Islanders). But 'crapitals' offends me. Not because I am a Capitals fan but because it brutalizes the English language because it is is such a bad pun. It's not clever in any sense, it's not a very inventive play on words and frankly, it's childishly crude. Again this isn't because I'm a Capitals fan - I get almost as irritated when people refers to Atlanta as the 'Trashers' (it's just as bad a pun but it doesn't have the fourth-grade level 'slight crudeness=funny' aspect to it so it doesn't bug me as much).

What got me thinking aout this was actually Facebook (yes, I am young enough that Facebook was a must-have for the end of my undergraduate career). After friending Ted Leonsis (seriously) and seeing he had the Washington Capitals Fan application, I added it. This little thing lets you discuss the Capitals, post articles, etc. One of the features is "Smack Talk", that matches fans of each team against one another on a common page in the days leading up to a head-to-head match-up and basically lets them rip into each other. A more depressing thing I have not seen on the internet in a long while.

What you might have hoped for would be (relatively) good-natured ribbing: teasing about Mike Green's haircut, arena quality, jerseys, and so on. Rather it quickly turned into people making baseless assertions (one person referred to the "skill and teamwork" of a group of players that included Ryan Hollweg and Jagr; another said Kolzig was one of the best goalies in the NHL) and personally attacking other people and the cities they lived in (often with rampant profanity) and the constant use of the term "gay" as an insult (another pet peeve of mine). I was actually considering going back and looking up some comments and posting them here but honestly I was afraid it would just depress me.

But once I started to look on the bright side it made me realize how lucky the NHL, and the Capitals, are to have such an active and intelligent blogosphere. Sure, there are still blowhards and jerks out there, but they're less likely to muck things up and they're less likely to survive, since a blog that's just profane complaining and insults isn't going to get read and isn't going to last very long. People who have nothing to contribute but clich├ęs, insults and wishes of bodily harm to players they would love if they wore the right sweater but instead hate and who take the game more seriously than the players who play in it are either forced to adapted or are weeded out. Intelligent discourse reigns in the blogosphere.

We Capitals fans are lucky to have so many intelligent, devoted and insightful fans who are willing to share their thoughts with the rest of us and make being a Capitals fan a little bit more interesting and fun every day. Thank you, CapsChick, Peerless, JP, Shmee, Mark, those at On Frozen Blog and all the other Capitals bloggers out there who are helping make the internet what it can be: a forum for intelligent and passionate discussion, rather than a place for people to take out their frustrations about life in general at others from behind the anonymity and protection of a keyboard.


On Frozen Blog said...

Thanks for the kind words.

Why don't you join us and many others in a viewing of "The Rocket" on Tuesday the 18th.

Details here:
OFB Night at the Movies - "The Rocket"

DMG said...

OFB, I'd love to but I'm not going to be in the D.C. area on the 18th. Thank you for the invitation though.