I have noticed over the 14 years I have been posting that there are certain phases associated with fans posting comments about playoff games. These phases are not all inclusive as described here and certainly not all posters fall into any of these descriptions but in general there seems to be distinct phases associated with playoff game postings. For the most part, these postings are more intense if the two teams are familiar with each other (and consequently the fan base as well) and as the playoffs continue there is a distinct reduction in intensity as the playoffs move from the bi-district and region finals to inter-region games and state-level games as fans know less and less about another region's teams and thus things become less personal. They generally stick to stats, struggle to find common opponents (which is near impossible at the latter stages of the playoffs) and offer respect to each team. Yes, there are a few fans who have so much passion for their teams that they are blinded by their own fantasy that the next team they will play will be the New England Patriots in the Littel Super Bowl. But, those fans are few and far between.
Well, here is my view of SDC Forum postings:
Phase I Relief
Phase II Contemplation
Phase III Increased Anticipation
Phase IV Frenzied Feeding
Phase V Calm Before the Storm
PHASE I, RELIEF: The immediate post-game feeling that comes from a victory over an opponent that was, in all honesty, up in the air for an entire week despite our previous posts that predicted the doom and gloom of the other team with a hint of respect thrown in to balance our thoughts. Our posts are generally congratulatory to those fans of the team we beat and all that was said before is now forgiven. Great game, Better luck next year, Tough team, Be back better than ever next year, etc are but a few key phrases in this phase. True fans of the game get back on board if their team wins or loses and offers congratulations to their opponent, wishes them luck if they were the victors, and offers condolences if they weren't. This phase begins the night of the game and continues into the next day, give or take a few hours.
PHASE II, CONTEMPLATION: This phase usually sets in about 24 to 48 hours after the previous victory when there is a mixture of thoughts on the game just won and the upcoming game. There is an increased analysis of the win and a few battle of posts with fans of the other team that are beginning to garner excuses as to why their team really lost. It wasn't so much that your team was good or played a better game but that their team just had a bad game and if it weren't for the fumbles, the uncalled for penalties, bad referreeing, etc. the outcome would have been different. There are, thankfully, few of these posts (depends on the rivalry aspect of the game itself) than there are of the genuine posts of congratulations. But, eventually, even these die out because most of the fans of these teams that just lost lose interest with their team no longer playing. Fans of football in general, however, hang on throughout the playoffs. Slowly but surely, thoughts turn to the next game and a few posts arrive that offer polls and seek predictions of the next round.
PHASE III, INCREASED ANTICIPATION: Eventually, all thoughts turn to the upcoming game and past games are forgotten (except for those previously mentioned that just won't let go). Fans line up behind their chosen team. Fans of the teams that are meeting are definitely in one camp or the other and the fans that are still hanging around from the teams already beaten take sides as well. These fans usually take sides based on proximity to their own teams, same district teams, same region teams, etc. Some fans, however, take the side of the team that is playing the team that beat their team. There is some deep desire within to see the team that beat their team lose in the same way their team did. Payback - yes, it is sweet. On the other hand, some fans of the beaten teams want their team to be remembered as a team that lost to the eventualy Region Champion, or quarterfinalist, or even better, the State Champion. Yes, thats right, we only lost because we played the eventual State Championship - look how close we came. The posts in this phase begin to heat up. Depending on who the opponent is, the first thing most fans do if they don't already know is try and find out who their opponent has played. That is followed by the inevitable "You haven't played anyone" posts that only serve to rile up the opponent's fans and fans of that team's district. District comparisons soon become the norm and not so surprisingly, it eventually looks like neither team played anyone at all and both teams came from either a weak district or the strongest one in the state - it all depends on who they are supporting this week. While the posts are heating up, in general, the posts in this phase are friendly and are more respectful than not.
PHASE IV, FRENZIED FEEDING: This is the phase that is borne from raw emotions - that turns ugly at the drop of a post and that in a lot of cases makes no sense at all. Soon everything said in the least bit negative way about a fan's team is blown way out of proportion and the battle ensues. The opponent is all of a sudden the next thing to the devil and doesn't deserve to be here at all and were only lucky to get by the previous opponents. Their star running back or star quarterback is going to run circles around the opponent because they haven't seen this type of player before. The defense is the best there is and each opponent hasn't seen a defense like this one. Conversely, there is the "we've seen running backs and quarterbacks before that are ten times better than yours and our defense is even better than yours because we've stopped better teans than you have played." There is another dose of "you haven't played anyone and you won't know what hit you" in this phase as the most needling of posts get repeated over and over again. Things become personal and even posts from past years get brought up - mostly to show how arrogant and obnoxious fans of the opponent have been over the years. Of course these fans then plead confidence in their team and offer the "we always back up what we say" on the field posts. There is a different tone coming from fans that have been here before versus those that are relatively new to the playoff scenario. Fans of the veterans sometimes belittle those of the newcomers - "when you've done what we've done then you can talk" - and the battle royale is on. Newcomers point to a change in team leadership, better coaching, a new vision, and overall condidence in their team too. They have this desire to become the veteran, to become the team everyone dislikes because they are successful. It is a viscious circle indeed. Emotions are running at fever pitch.
PHASE V, CALM BEFORE THE STORM: All the negative posts are in and have been rehashed over and over again. The posts are drained of emotion, the game is almost upon us. There is a sense of respect back in the posts, The personal attacks diminish to a trickle as their bite just isn't what it used to be in the previous phase. We've heard it all, there are no more rocks to turn over and no more dirty laundry to show in public. We respect our opponent, their schedule, and the way they have played the game. Soon, most posts center around wishing our opponents luck and relying on the game to settle all outstanding disputes. Fans are preparing for the game. There are fewer posts as the time of the game nears. There is a last bit of posting once again wishing their team luck and their team's opponent luck as well as everyone heads to the game. There is an eerie silence on the forum boards and a last minute struggle to find out if the game is going to be on the radio or on the net for those fans not able to go. Then it is game time. Fans are either at the game or sitting by the radio or the compuer, ready to go. All posts are forgotten. The game is finally here.
Hope you enjoyed my view of the posts out here on SDC. No offense intended and certainly not all posts or fans fall into these phases. Enjoy the games and may they be played injury free.