As fans of Cleveland sports teams, we love following our favorite teams and most of us support our teams in traditionally healthy ways. Some may question what “healthy” actually means. But for the most part, we can keep our emotions in check and not make our cheering for the Browns, Guardians, Monsters, or Cavs a part of our lives where it will affect everything we do in life. Fandom for our teams is normal and cheering for our favorite players is also pretty much expected.

When I was growing up I fell in love with the “Kardiac Kids” Cleveland Browns team of 1980. My heroes were Brian Sipe, Dave Logan and Ozzie Newsome. I cried after the team lost a crushing playoff game to the Oakland Raiders. It was tough watching my favorite players lose a game as they did. But life went on and the Browns would break my heart many more times. If you were to ask friends or family some might say I’m a bit over the top with my fandom for Cleveland teams like the Browns. But I’ve learned how to disengage from the teams and games. Most of us know how to do that as sports fans.

This story though isn’t about my love affair for Cleveland sports but its more about what I’ve learned overnight about the effect that social media has played in creating a whole new world of sports fans that are out of touch with reality when discussing their fandom and are using social media platforms to create a dark world of insults, inhumane statements and grotesque verbiage. It’s not like I just figured this out overnight as social media has been a huge part of all of our lives for some time now. But I was on the unfortunate end of others’ hate and disgust for a message I sent out on a football player that some really love and are fanatics for.

After the Super Bowl, I sent out a tweet on Twitter where I discussed the tears that Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. showcased after his team won the big game. I suggested in my tweet that the tears were more selfish and reflected more on his self-centered view that has been observed by others over the years. Beckham Jr. earlier in the season forced his way off the Browns team after his elder father posted negative social media posts on the Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

So, my post was more about the view that many Browns fans have in regard to Beckham’s selfish act. There was a game this past season where Browns running back Nick Chubb said on the sideline to then-teammate Beckham, “I just want to win,” and Beckham responded back, “I just want to score a touchdown.”

That sequence like many others over Beckham’s career speaks to the “look at me” attitude that he’s been known for.

So back to the current story.

When my tweet went out, it picked up steam and was resent by many others and the tweet went viral. With that though began a whole day of getting comment after comment of which most of them were in support of Beckham’s tears of joy. Many suggested I was crazy and rude with my take. Again, I’ll remind everyone at this point that we are all welcome to have our own opinions. A bit of banter back in forth between fans isn’t all that bad but these social media platforms, especially Twitter have given some fans the ability to say and respond in ways that are simply not right and are disturbing. Making threats and suggesting the “world would be better off without you” are not responses that are coming from healthy fans and unfortunately that’s what I started to see in the comments that were being made on my tweet.

It certainly was a day to remember and the one that has reminded me of the danger of giving people a place to share opinions and beliefs hiding behind a phone or computer screen. We could all use a little less time on these social media platforms and more time talking to other fans face to face in a competitive and yet humane way. Bring back 1980 and those Kardiac Kids!


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