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Cox's Corner: The Dark Side of Fandom

When someone crosses the line from being a fan to something else completely.

Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to sports, people get emotional. There's probably not a sport that incites more emotion than college football. We all have a team. I'm going to assume most reading this root for the team in orange. But regardless of which school is on your bumper sticker, it's all the same. Most of us grew up supporting that one team. We have memories ingrained in our souls of historic victories and crushing defeats. Through it all, we never left. We are loyal fans.

It's easy to get mad at a coach who you think calls a bad play or a receiver who drops a pass. You scream at the TV when a defensive lineman jumps off sides and give the offense a first down in that crucial part of the game. Why? Because it matters to you. You are emotionally invested in the game, the team, the university.

We have all had those moments where we've lost our cool and that's okay. I broke a Christmas tree during the '13 Bedlam game. I won't share that story. But there is a growing trend among fans that simply crosses the line.

In the age of social media, we have access to the lives of all types of people. From athletes to celebrities or us normal folk that share common (or contrasting) interests, we have an unfiltered line between each other. This can be awesome and hilarious or it can turn disgusting and sad. The trend I eluded to is the personal attack on athletes through social media outlets like Twitter. Whether it's a player on a team you root for, an opposing team's player, or a high school recruit, it's a bad look.

It's quite peculiar if you think about it. On Twitter, you can basically say anything to anyone you want, and they can reach out and share with you. The purpose of that medium is to allow access to whatever it might be that someone else wants to put out there. Agree or disagree with it. Discuss or argue. Whatever.

The embarrassing part is when a 17 year old kid decides to change his mind (for one of several reasons) about a decision that will affect him the rest of his life and some 35 year old "adult" decides to add his two cents, if not personally attack that same kid. Who are these people? Let me burst everyone's bubble here. When a high school age kid from say Texas decides to come to Oklahoma State to play a specific sport, it's probably not because he is an OSU fan.

All those emotions you had about OSU growing up, he or she probably had for a different school (if they even had them at all). They chose OSU because they liked the coaches, the facilities or even the uniforms. Maybe this was their only offer. The point I'm making is that to resent someone for changing their mind about a decision that has nothing to do with you is crazy. I really don't get it.

Does it suck when a recruit flips from OSU to another school, especially a rival? Of course. I for one am annoyed that every 2 star d-tackle has to hold a press conference to announce his commitment. I get that they like the attention. They're kids (some technically children). I guess with the whole production or scene or whatever you want to call it, this type of thing is inevitable. But I have never even thought some of the things I've read people tweet at these recruits. Threats (hilarious), talking about their families and even wishing for them to get injured. Be better.

You remember that old rule, "If you can't say something nice,..."? Well I am not always nice so I fail there. But I think there is a new rule we should all subscribe to, "If you would be too scared to say something to someone's face, don't tweet it at them."

Social media is not good or bad. It's neutral. People make it what it is. But it has created a phenomenon of keyboard tough guys who basically say whatever pops into their mind no matter how distasteful or hurtful it might be. (They're probably the same people that were sucking up to the recruit when he instagramed his pose next to Pistol Pete). Like it or not, if an OSU fan acts like this, it reflects on all OSU fans to some degree. Let's just try to remember that these kids are people without an agenda. They aren't toying with your emotions at least not intentionally.  Simply click the unfollow button and worry about supporting your team.