Sports are fun, they're meant to be a distraction. Rivalries are fun too. It's a way for one group of people to form bonds and camaraderie through the mutual dislike of another group of people who feel the same way. It's all in great fun.
So when a player like Roddy White adds a little gas to the fire that is the Saints-Falcons rivalry, it gets even more fun. It's especially fun when he does it on twitter because, well, everything is funny in the context of twitter.
It gets even more fun when White's tweets are picked up by a major media outlet and then that causes local outlets to devote column inches to what a bunch of football players tweeted over a couple of days. (Just check out this rundown of events. Truly journalism at its finest.)
Seriously, even five years ago, could you have imagined people making this much of a fuss over a few 140 character internet posts? It's all very silly and fits perfectly in the silly world of professional sports. Now Saints fans and players are out for blood and it's all going to make for some very good television this Monday night.
But at what point does the silly move into the painfully absurd? The Saints and Falcons are a big rivalry, to be sure, but where the playful taunts of "Aints" and "frying dirty birds" become something else entirely? Maybe when a guy from Atlanta writes a story about how the Saints and their fans "milked" the after-affects of Hurricane Katrina when celebrating the Super Bowl?
I'd say so. The SBNation article - which was a lot more insidious and the one linked to above - was entitled "The Falcons-Saints Rivalry: Hating America's Team after Hurricane Katrina" and is no longer posted on the SBNation site. Apparently, SBNation editors realized it was wrong to have let someone post comments better left to the lowliest of message boards under the auspices of it being a good sports story.
The story was written by a Steven Godfrey and, thankfully, nothing this outrageous could be permanently deleted from the internet and we can still find a few choice quotes. Like:
Saints fans "exploited every iota of their 2005 disaster to better celebrate a Super Bowl win" and they believe "it's OK to tack on the suffering of thousands and the devastation of decades to enhance the luster of your football title, but if someone else derides you for it, claim ownership of the tragedy and whine like hell".
Godfrey, who lives in Nashville and is no stranger to ridiculous rants. So far, he has already taken a good amount of heat for his thoughts on twitter (to the point that he is trending #NewOrleans) and his twitter page also links to the now-deleted story. Oh, and he has a Tumblr (of course he does).
Now, Godfrey's remarks were pretty outrageous, but it's not the first (nor I don't think it'll be the last) time that anyone has accused New Orleanians of exploiting Katrina. It's a ridiculous sentiment, of course, but it's one that exists and one that is given a voice in the wild, untamed land that is the World Wide Web.
This is just another reasons Saints fans will have to feel animosity towards Falcons fans, even though this particular Falcons fan doesn't even live in Atlanta, and thus Saints fans would be unfairly stigmatizing their opponents based on the careless words written by one dummy in Nashville. Then Falcons fans will feel like they aren't getting a fair shake and that New Orleans fans are really classless jerk who are bad sports and then it cycles into eternity.
But just because ridiculous people now have a voice doesn't mean we have to listen to them. Surely, Godfrey will have his 15 minutes of infamy but then people in New Orleans will go back to not knowing who he is (if they even bothered to take the 10 minutes of Googling like I did to learn in the first place). But what matters most is the game. And after the Saints will play the Falcons tonight, there will be a final score, maybe some more trash talk and then we'll turn our focus to next week and then the playoffs and then the next game (or distraction) after that.
All of this is just a roundabout way of saying that, it's just sports, people. Try not to let the trash talking get out of hand, realize that when it does it's not worth the time to respond and that, generally, most of what you read on the internet is idiotic.
(Oh, and the irony of devoting some 700 words on the why we shouldn't pay attention to stupid internet shenanigans is not lost on me. Enjoy the game!)