A couple years ago, I stopped reading a popular Canes blog after about 7 years because it had started to become diluted with mostly one type of fan. The Homer. But, I didn’t stop reading and posting because they were there, as I think every fan should be able to celebrate their team as they see fit, as long as it doesn’t interfere with others. Glass Bangers, Sloppy Drunks, Puck Bunnies, Pee-Wees, Tiger Beat Skinner fans, from the luxury boxes to the college night seats, I love them all. Want proof? I married a David Tanabe fan. If that isn’t tolerance, I don’t know what is.
But, when it becomes too inundated with one specific type of demographic, you lose a lot of perspectives that could otherwise really enlighten others and spark great discussions. Not to mention, some of the fans that remain, who may think differently or have different ideas or views may be more inclined to lurk and less likely to participate in discussions in fear of being labeled contrarian. Similar logic went into my decision to move out west. To me, the more diverse a community, whether online or not, the more voices or languages you hear, the more new things you see/hear/taste, the more interesting life is. But now, on almost every Carolina Hurricanes discussion board that I still frequent, it’s boiled down to a battle between the Homers and Haters. All Caniacs must fall into one of these two camps. No in-between. I’ve never seen such a single, solid line drawn to divide a fan base. I’m not really sure why it is. My best guess is that our team, at the moment, isn’t very good, and hasn’t been in four years. Because of this, only the most devout Hurricanes fans remain. Most of the Bandwagon Fans have gone back to watching the Panthers (and “The Other Cam”); Fair Weather Fans, well, we haven’t really had any fair weather so they’re not around much; the Sports Bigamists have gone back to watching the Penguins who ” were my favorite team before I moved from Pittsburgh to Raleigh”. So, what’s left? The fans who are so devoted that nothing could keep them from supporting their boys, even poor performance and the ones that love the team but are critical and bitter after a couple years of sub par effort and would like to see some changes. When a sample size has deteriorated and gets so thin, to the point that there are only a couple of different personality types, it almost becomes an “Us vs Them” mentality. What’s weirder still is that it’s self inflicted. One Caniac labeling another as a Homer or a Hater without any validation for their statement. Someone states ” I don’t really think bringing Joe Corvo back was a good move”. Instantly, they’re labeled as being a Debbie Downer and implored to show empirical evidence as to why they have that opinion. It’s Caniac Cannibalism! The fact is, we’re all fans, we all have opinions, and it’s highly unlikely that the person you think is as homer/hater is actually what you perceive them to be. As with just about anything in life, there is no black and white when it comes to being a fan. Just because someone has a different view, doesn’t mean they disagree with everything you do. In fact, it may be the only thing you disagree about! Healthy debate is an incredible thing. It opens doors and minds. But our passion is getting in the way of logic and amenity. The civil discourse that first prompted me to make my very first comment on a Hurricanes blog 10 years ago is a thing of the past. The good news? Winning cures this social ill. I don’t remember this divide back in ’02 or ’06 or ’09. Losing brings out the worst in fans. That’s what I think we’re seeing, the worst of Caniac Nation. If someone thinks that JR did a great job this year in free agency, they don’t need proof to substantiate their claim and that statement alone doesn’t a Homer make. Let’s all chill out a bit, and start showing some of that ever diminishing “Southern Hospitality” we used to be known for, especially within our own ranks. Getting to PNC 3 hours early to fire up the grill or blasting the Scorpions as you roll down Edward’s Mill on game night are important facets of being a Caniac. However our most intrinsic feature is that we are urbane, courteous, gracious and respectful. Don’t sully the name.