NASCAR Fans and Twitter – Not Always a Good Combination

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by Ryan Isley

Remember when it was fun to watch a live sporting event not only on television, but to watch along with fellow fans on Twitter at the same time? Well it seems that those times are long gone.

This isn’t the first time that I have written about fans and the way they react on Twitter, as I wrote about how Cleveland Indians fans were treating Chris Perez in May. This also isn’t about Chris Perez, nor is it about the latest incident in Oakland where a fan baited Perez into an altercation.

This is about the latest sports community that seems to be stricken by the disease of fans having what I like to call “Twitter courage” – NASCAR.

This past weekend when NASCAR was at Michigan, it may have finally become too much. Jeff Gluck, the Motorsports Editor for SBNation, had enough and tweeted:

Gluck then continued to write for SBNation on Monday that the growing NASCAR following on Twitter has led to more trolls:

The NASCAR community on Twitter is getting nastier as it receives more exposure to the masses, and it’s just a matter of time before a high-profile driver deletes his account or stops tweeting. From 2009-2011, those who were interested in talking about NASCAR on Twitter seemed to be able to debate civilly, understand humor/sarcasm and generally be respectful. But since the Daytona 500 red flag and Brad Keselowski’s tweet drew tens of thousands more people to Twitter – coupled with the heavily promoted #NASCAR hashtag initiative – the community now has a higher percentage of trolls.

I couldn’t agree more with Gluck on this, as I have dealt with a few of these trolls myself, especially when I have written or tweeted about certain drivers, such as Danica Patrick.

When Danica ran well at Talladega in the NASCAR Nationwide Series back in May, I was tweeting all through the race about how impressed I was with her approach to the race that day. I even was going to sit down and write a post for More Than A Fan that afternoon about how well she raced. That was until she wrecked Sam Hornich, Jr. after the race was finished because of something she perceived as wrongdoing by Hornish, Jr. on the final lap. That led me to scrap some of the positive things I was intending to write and instead I wrote that she allowed her emotions to ruin an otherwise good afternoon.

Well of course that brought out the Danica supporters on Twitter in full force, including one in particular who couldn’t put together a coherent sentence, yet went on to call me just about every name in the book and telling me that I just don’t like women. When I directed her to look at my Twitter timeline from earlier in the day to see how positive I had been about Danica, she just kept tweeting at me with nonsensical ramblings.

When NASCAR headed to Daytona for the Fourth of July weekend, I felt that we might finally see the first win of Danica’s stock car career in Friday night’s Nationwide race.  As I figured, I didn’t hear from any of those same people on Twitter who were yelling at me for being negative towards Danica at Talladega.

I am not talking about those people on Twitter who want to have an intelligent debate or who just want to show the support for their favorite driver. I am talking about those who don’t know how to control themselves or know how to act like a respectable human being when dealing with other folks on Twitter. It is like they think that just because they are behind a computer screen or a smartphone, they can say whatever they want – and they usually do just that.

These are the people who are ruining it for those who actually enjoy interacting with people on Twitter as if they were all sitting in a bar and watching the race together. They are also making it more difficult for those who are covering the race to do their jobs, as they are constantly dealing with the problem tweeters. They are also making it increasingly less fun for drivers to interact with fans from their Twitter accounts.

I am not asking for you to stay away from Twitter or even to stop tweeting your opinions on what is happening on the track. What I am asking is that you do it in a manner that shows some a semblance of class.

It just really isn’t that difficult – the other 95% of us have figured out how to do it.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net