REMINDER: It's a Game and These are People

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
March 22 2014 11:53PM

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Hey there, it's me, Jeffler. I'm that guy that the internet tells to Shut Up a lot. Please look at the above picture, of just some of April Reimer (James' wife)'s interactions box on twitter. Read every single message, and come back to me. 

Are we done? Okay. Let's have a moment.

As fans, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the National Hockey League, heck, competitive sports as a whole have the capacity to bring out our most reactionary and passionate emotions at a moment's notice. When spend so much time invested in following, learning about, and caring about a team, or an athlete, or almost anything in life, you're going to be overjoyed when they accomplish your hopes, and upset when they let you down. I get it.

But before taking those emotions and opening your mouth, I'd like you to remember a few things.

  • As much as this may seem like an oversimplification, you are an opt-in consumer to an entertainment product. In many ways, the emotional attachment you have to seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs do well is the same attachment that people have to their favourite singers on American Idol. Except your people come back every season, and they have to pick new ones. Those bandwagoners.
  • The players on the ice are human beings with human emotions. It may not seem like it when they have their superhero-like uniforms on during the games, but when the game is done, they go back to their families and live close to normal lives. 
  • Nobody is athletically capable of doing the same thing every single time they attempt it, without fail. There's a reason why the best in the world still practice. Lebron still works on his free throws, Tiger Woods still works on his chips, Sidney Crosby works on his shooting accuracy, Usain Bolt works on his first stride. Back to the human element; their gifts are tuned and not robotic.
  • The same applies to the mental standpoint. We've all had bad days at work, where we just couldn't put things together in the way that we want to. Maybe something at home is troubling us. Maybe we're really excited about something that's ahead of us and can't shake it out of our thoughts. Professional athletes are probably better at avoiding this than most people are, due to the fact they've got decades of experience in this regard, including in their developmental stages, but it definitely happens.
  • Team sports as a whole are based off of having to make quick decisions involving your surrounding environment. Hockey has this issue to an even greater extent. Every player who has ever played has made hundreds if not thousands of incorrect decisions in their lifetime of playing. It's an incredibly hard thing to do, and shouldn't ever be taken for granted. What we see from a top-down view on a TV screen without people breathing down our backs is much different from their perspective.

I know that firing shots at people that are firing shots is something that could be seen as a weird thing to be read here on The Leafs Nation. The writers here as a whole are very skeptical of the performance sustainability of the team as a whole and many individual players. A lot of us are not very fond of the words that are said by team's staff and/or management and the decisions that they make. But in our criticism, we try to stay focused on the realities of the situation. 

Everybody is trying their hardest to succeed. Not just for your enjoyment, but to further their careers. Nobody is complacent at this level; they're all looking for that next step. There's a difference between a critique along the lines of "Player X doesn't perform well compared to his peers, and as someone who would like to see the team I cheer for succeed, I'd prefer somebody else", and "I hate this guy he's trash and I hope he dies", and similar personal attacks.

When somebody in ANY situation, be it in pro sports or in your everyday life, fails to reach expectations, nobody is more disappointed in them than themselves. You don't have to pat them on the back and say they've given an optimal performance; you can call a spade a spade and provide constructive criticism. But there's no point in getting personal.

Let's go back to the picture. People don't have an easy way to personally attack James Reimer because he wasn't able to stop 3 of 35 shots from some of the most talented hockey players on the face of planet tonight, plus one that his teammate kinda scored on him. So they look for a middle man, or in this case, a middle woman, and take pot shots at his wife, or at the very minimum, ask her to pass on their emotions.

This is even worse. At least the players have people training them to channel out as much of the outside world as possible for years. When you look for a family member to pass on your anger to, you're going to their biggest fans, and saying "This person sucks and I hate them. Let them know, okay?". Which is an insane thought. 

Imagine if you worked retail, and your mother started getting phone calls about how it took too long for you to get something at the back, and as such, should be a prime candidate to jump in front of a bus. Sound's pretty bad, doesn't it? But at the end of the day; you'll shrug that off faster than your mother will. To an extent, we're all very capable of deflecting hatred to ourselves. Those who care about you will never be.

This is turning into a tangent. Let me wrap it up.

Conclusion

Cliches aside, the players you cheer and boo on the ice are putting 100% into careers they've spent most of their lives attaining. Nobody wants to make you happy more than them, because it's a byproduct of their own personal accomplishments. Once they leave the rink, they're people just like you and me, and they deserve respect. Even more so, don't use their loved ones as a gateway; there's no point in catching anybody in the crossfire of your emotions, especially somebody who it will hurt worse than your target.

Constructive criticism, and thoughtful work performance evaluation are things that come with every job (again, this is their job). But nothing is ever gained from a personal attack, be it to that guy on the third line that you don't like or the person walking down the street that gave you a curious look.

Be curious. Be skeptical. Don't be a jerk. This also applies to your interactions with society as a whole.

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I bring news about the Toronto Marlies, opinions about the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a bunch of ridiculous thoughts about everything else.
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#1 FlareKnight
March 23 2014, 12:43AM
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In the end there are lots of jerks in the world. Be it in any specific fanbase or just in general.

Such is the downside of the social media age. People don't have to take many steps in order to say stupid things. Normally you wouldn't be able to get those thoughts out in the first place or by the time you got there heads would be cooled and rationality coming forward. Now it's just remarkably easy to vent in the worst way possible.

Not that what's being said isn't horrible, but it's really not all that surprising. Not long ago there was all that craziness about Scriven's wife in Edmonton. Find the more popular sports in the US and I'm sure stupid things are said around there too.

Seems like a snapshot at an issue society has as a whole. Venting in private may make people objectfully as bad, but it's not an issue since no one hears it. But now when people lose their heads they dive onto the twitter before stopping themselves.

In the end not sure a standard approach will work here. People get invested, people get angry, people do something stupid. Variety comes from levels of restraint, detachment, etc.

At this point I'm just rambling. Will always be able to find stupid people who will do unbelievably stupid things. If people want to vent in private and get frustrated, I'm not going to tell them not to. Just that those people specifically might want to shut down their accounts if they can't cool their heads before doing something that crosses the line like that.

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#2 Rottentomatoes
March 23 2014, 01:16AM
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This is the downside to Twitter, everyone has a smartphone these days and is looking for their 10 seconds of fame, good or bad. It's a good there's a block button though—who needs people trolling them after all.

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#3 TGT23
March 23 2014, 02:00AM
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No matter what anyone says, THAT is UNACCEPTABLE.

Those people are the worst of our fandom. The worst of the worst. They represent everything that is wrong with sports fans. The extreme minority.

Don't like someone? Fine. Rant about it on a forum. Make a website devoted to your hate. Whatever. But, you do not, under any circumstances, attack someone's family.

That is too far.

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#4 TGT23
March 23 2014, 02:03AM
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And everyone please note that the first person, 2ndlast2rise, that person seems to be insulting the people going after April Reimer so keep that in mind if you intend to flame him blindly.

Everyone else appears to be fair game.

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#5 della cameron
March 23 2014, 06:39AM
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this is absolutely not acceptable to attack james reimers wife because the leafs didnt win where in the name of god is your mind set to do such a thing this lady has nothing to do with how the leafs are playing being james reimers wife her heart must break to see how he puts his heart and soul into each and every game only to be attacked verbally time and time again please use some common sense and leave his wife out of your rants

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#6 CashGameND
March 23 2014, 07:10AM
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I'm so embarrassed by these tweets I actually had to take to twitter to show some support. Seriously disgusting people.

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#8 Truth Observer
March 23 2014, 07:53AM
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Hey Jeffler, how about taking your own advice when it comes to Bozak?

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#10 leafer4life
March 23 2014, 08:45AM
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@Truth Observer

I was going to ask about this too. Bozak has feelings too and unlike James whose wife can shield Reimer from twitter, Bozak will have to read about how his corsi sucks and how terrible he is at hockey.

Just imagine some in the analytic crowd if Clarkson and Carlyle had twitter.

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#11 leafer4life
March 23 2014, 08:50AM
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Also, when Reimer was winning last year April's twitter was gushing with praise and now it has turned for the worse. I'm not sure the Orr and Clarkson critics have ever said anything positive but then again those players.

At least these twitter ninnies are trying to be objective and pointing out the positive and negatives games of these players. These twitter folks go overboard to the positive and negative. Unlike the Bozak, Carlyle and Clarkson haters who only hate and never mention the positives even once.

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#12 leafer4life
March 23 2014, 09:10AM
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@Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)

Thanks for pointing out the article on the positives of Bozak. I got to this link today from the PPP site and they never linked your previous article defending Bozak. In fact, I recall they posted many derogatory and unfair criticisms of Bozak.

That said, can you do a similar defence for Ranger, Clarkson, Orr, Carlyle etc so that the coverage can be a bit more balance and constructive. It seems that everyone I follow is piling on these guys and they are not perfect but they do some things well. Good stuff.

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#13 JaredFromLondon
March 23 2014, 09:25AM
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wow, just wow, so saying a bad player is bad at hockey is the same as attacking their family over social media and wishing they die? Some of you are un-believable, what utter crap.

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#15 TGT23
March 23 2014, 10:35AM
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@JaredFromLondon

No, what they are doing is tweeting his wife that her husband is;

"garbage" a "joke" that his "d*ck reeks" that he is a "piece of sh*t"

And then one tells her not to "give him a handy" and calls him (or possibly her?) an "Ape"...

That is too much. You want to come to this forum and trash Reimer. Fine. Want to go to youtube? Fine. Want to tweet about it? Fine.

But you do NOT put James Reimer's WIFE'S twitter account in the tweet to make sure she sees the messages.

If you defend that you are no better than they are.

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#16 JaredFromLondon
March 23 2014, 11:52AM
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@TGT23 er, I don't know what you think I said, but I was calling out the morons who were defending the people attacking Reimer's wife and using calling Bozak/Clarkson/Orr bad at hockey as some sort of valid comparison

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#17 Frank
March 23 2014, 05:03PM
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@FlareKnight

The logical thing to do would be to make you account private or simply not have one at all.

Before anyone says "Hey! She shouldn't have to give up social media or personal freedoms because people are jerks!" I just want to point out that it is her choice to make herself accessible to the public.

By posting her last two tweets, she's throwing gasoline on a pretty raging fire, figuratively speaking.

Maybe just limit your account to private... PS Reimer stinks

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#18 Lt. Clueless
March 23 2014, 09:29PM
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I was directed here from a link on Twitter. Please don't hate on me because I'm a Flyers fan, but I felt the need to address what is going on from an outsider's prospective.

As a Flyers fan, we're brutally honest. We boo our own players if we feel they aren't doing their job, and we'll tell them as such as well. I've seen some pretty nasty tweets to a couple of players as well, and on some, I find that they are uncalled for, and I'll say as such.

That all being said, I think that we all need to remember that regardless of team affiliations and such, these guys are people first. These guys take time away from families to go to different cities to play. Some move from locations that they knew from growing up and have ties to so they can play. Ok, there are many who make millions of dollars a year to do this, but there are also some who only get $500k a year.

Onto the blame of who caused your team to lose their chances at the playoffs. It isn't just one person. It's a team effort. Blame the team. Blame the coaching. Hell, blame the GM. But remember that you also have the owner who pays out and spends money to bring the players to your organization. If the GM says this player would be great to bring in, it's ultimately the owner that says ok, go for it, or no, don't do it because that isn't a good deal. And even at that, owner and GM have to take the risk to allow a deal to be made and hope that it isn't going to backfire.

Do I feel the fans that sent those messages to April owe her an apology and that they also owe James an apology? Absolutely. This was uncalled for as she's just his wife and nothing more. Your anger is misguided.

And let's be honest here. At least Reimer isn't Luongo, Bryzgalov, or Thomas.

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#19 James Powers
March 24 2014, 08:45AM
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If you are a member of social media and you take the complements then you have to be big enough to accept the other side as well, if not STAY off social media! sport is a passionate entity, how can this be unexpected?

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#20 JL
March 24 2014, 10:22AM
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@Frank

Ya, blame the victim. She should wear less provocative clothing. Men can't help themselves when she tempts them like that.

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#21 NEMK
March 24 2014, 02:51PM
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Thanks for your article. My reaction to the above photo was outrage. You handled your article with a cooler head than mine and set the right tone. Nice job on a truly outrageous aspect of being a hockey fan.

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#22 Jsn212
March 25 2014, 09:51AM
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The most interesting part about all the comments made was that these people call themselves fans of the very team they direct all this hatred towards. Do they forget that the team is not an entity but a collection of people? these types of comments do nothing but further reduce our chances of making the playoffs.

Perhaps those 'fans' should consider this, it is much harder to stand up and support your team in a positive way in times of adversity than to take the low road and whine like a child.

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#23 ADS
March 25 2014, 05:37PM
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Toronto is my second favorite team and with fans like those,( attacking Jame's wife) the team will probably never be my first. I'm sorry, from all the good fans out there who have no class.

And to you no goods out there, get over it; James is not the team and PLEASE leave his lady alone.

From a HAB fan....

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#24 darrell tobin
March 25 2014, 11:34PM
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@della cameron

i don,t understand why the goalies get the blame for slumps,although its true reimers not at the top of his game,he,s not the reason their losing,try the fact the leafs give up more shots a game than any other team,when you play 50 miniutes of a 60 minuite game in your own end your going to lose,tell the forwards to try forechecking,there to lazy and rely way to much on there goalies,trying to make the playoffs in almost a must win,your outshot 23... 7 in the first,thats not a goalie problem gang,and im a die hard maple leafs fan!!!!!!!!!

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