Last week, Roar colleague Geoff Lemon wrote a thought-provoking piece about the hatred that fans feel towards cricketers – in particular Shane Watson – which elicited a great response from some of the site’s faithful.
The piece, and the reaction to it, stimulated an emotion within me. It was a feeling I was latently aware existed within me, but it was certainly confirmed last week.
That grand old emotion of love.
More specifically, I love The Roar.
More on that in a second, but before I start the hug-fest, I’d firstly like to touch on Geoff’s piece, because although I commented on the article at the time, I feel it warrants a more detailed response.
My two cents on the topic of hating players is that sport has long been about entertainment, and because of that, its viewers get engaged with it in much the same way they do other ‘entertainment’, like movies, books, plays, TV shows, etc.
Great storytelling relies on archetypes, and therefore many great stories have a ‘hero’ and ‘villain’. Assigning individuals we watch to these particular roles is a short-cut for comprehending the narrative of a story.
Because of these traditional ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ archetypes, there is somewhat a need, or habit, to ‘love’ some characters and ‘hate’ others. It’s lazy, but that’s actually the point – it enables readers and/or viewers to ascertain whom the good and bad guys are.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the entertainment of sport, that becomes an issue, because we forget that athletes are people, not characters. They may be entertaining us, but they are not playing roles, they are being themselves.
Sure, some athletes love to play up to the villain role, while others feel comfortable slotting into that of the ‘good guy’, but at the end of the day, there is much merit in remembering that they are humans, not characters.
In many respects, fans don’t really hate an athlete; they’re just playing their part in the show by getting emotionally invested in the proceedings.
This was evident in some of the responses to Geoff’s article, as readers applauded the premise of the piece, yet confessed that despite this, they still maintained a level of hatred towards Shane Watson, Quade Cooper, Greg Bird, Manly, Collingwood, etc.
Which brings me back nicely to the topic at hand: how much I love The Roar.
I love it because I love sport, and some of the discussions, debates, responses and banter on The Roar are not just wildly entertaining, but actually increase my love, knowledge and enjoyment of sport.
I love reading just about everything on the site, because there are some high quality opinions and writing.
From a personal perspective I also love the site because I credit the whole Roar community with making me a better writer. Though many will no doubt argue that I’m still rubbish.
It was an instant lesson that I should triple-check – at a minimum – my pieces before they go live. It also ensured that Brett and I got off on the wrong foot, and never really recovered, but that’s a story for another day.
Straight from day one, it was evident that mistakes would be identified and you would be made aware of them immediately. Roarers are like a school of hungry piranhas, ready to feast on any errors.
And I love it.
It keeps you on your toes. Without a hint of hyperbole, I can honestly say that the feeding frenzy makes me a better writer, and I credit comments on my pieces with improving my writing.
I also love how passionate Roarers are. There are certainly some heated discussions that occur on the site, yet there is an underlying bond among all those involved. Quite simply, we’re connected by our love of sport.
That doesn’t mean we always have to agree, and in fact some of my favourite experiences on The Roar have involved violent disagreements with Roarer Mushi.
We have clashed on numerous occasions, yet I have sincerely enjoyed every single one of them, because they come from a base of knowledge; the guy knows his stuff. Getting into a war of wits with unarmed person is frustrating. I therefore enjoy my exchanges with Mushi, even if I don’t always agree with him.
In fact, in many regards, disagreements are what fuels the site. It’s no coincidence that the articles that have generated the most comments are ones that have created a debate.
Extending that thought even further, Brett and I clashed so often early in our working relationship, that we created ‘McKay versus O’Connell’ pieces – which are returning soon – in order to formally disagree with each other.
It even led to on-air fights at the tea intervals during The Roar Radio’s broadcast of the Australian Test team’s Indian tour, and the start of the Cheap Seats Podcast.
It’s also fun to be a spectator and read other combatants going at it in high quality quarrels. I enjoy nothing more that witnessing an intelligent debate with insightful viewpoints, and just a little hint of rage.
Such passion and disagreements are what makes the site truly great.
Long may it live, and keep Roaring.