Acknowledging Sports’ Biggest Fool…

Marc Andre-Fleury almost rid himself of some playoff demons last night. (p/c: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Note: Some of the examples I use in this post contain explicit language.)

Marc-Andre Fleury played a nearly flawless game for the first 59:36 of last night’s Stanley Cup Playoff game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

And then he left the net.

We all know what happened next. The puck took a bad bounce, leading to an open cage that Brandon Dubinsky capitalized on, tying the game at three all. Then, less than three minutes into overtime, Nick Foligno’s wrister found its way past Fleury to win it for the Blue Jackets.

Fans took to social media accounts immediately to display their frustration with the goaltender’s collapse. Some of them just displayed disappointment, while others were too excessive:

And so on. Threats on Fleury’s life were made, not because he’s a bad person, but because he made a few mistakes at the end of a playoff game.

Listen, I get the frustration and I don’t believe anyone is immune to criticism, regardless how well they do their job. (Hell, I even said “what are you doing?” after Fleury left the net to play the puck.) But today’s culture of spewing ignorance and violent threats after a mistake or because you don’t like a player is disturbing.

(By the way, this post isn’t directed towards Pittsburgh fans – they’re just an easy example based on last night’s events and my proximity towards them.)

There’s a popular Twitter account called @BestFansStLouis, which is a jab at the “Best Fans in Baseball” moniker the Cardinals pride themselves on. What this account does, however, is expose the fan culture highlighted in the above tweets about Fleury.

For instance, here’s a few thoughts on Albert Pujols hitting his 500th homerun:

Examples can be brought forth from every fanbase. The point is that these things are getting worse and worse, and I wouldn’t be surprised that these threats start becoming more than that. Situations such as the scuffle between Marcus Smart and a Texas Tech fan or the Utah Valley / New Mexico State incident could only escalate in coming years.

Granted, this type of “expression” has been going on long past the social media age, and it sounds like I’m lecturing about something that has been preached about time and time again. But isn’t it a little ridiculous that people still post these threats that their employers/teachers/etcetera can easily access?

Marc-Andre Fleury might have looked like a fool in the closing minutes of last night’s game, but the bigger fools are the people overreacting to his mistakes.

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