I’ve had the idea of hammering out a Utah Jazz Fan Code of Conduct ever since I saw my first absurd Twitter fight that began as a disagreement over playing time, and devolved into such vicious mudslinging that a southern politician would’ve been impressed. Considering how passionate Jazz fans (including myself) can be, it’s not surprising that emotions can boil over at times, especially via a medium such as Twitter, where a lack of face-to-face contact seems to strip us of our default niceties. Even so, it saddens me to see a family as tight knit as Jazz Nation have so much infighting over petty disagreements. At times, I feel like I’m the one family member at Thanksgiving meekly calling for everyone to calm down while utensils, gravy boats and Grandma’s famous homemade stuffing are tossed to and fro amid a cacophony of insults.
Make no mistake about it; I don’t consider myself above any other Jazz fan (the drunk guy at Walmart in a Stockton jersey who yelled “YEAAHHHHHH! REPRESENT!!!” at me upon seeing my Jazz hat excluded). I try very hard to avoid personal attacks at all costs, but I will ashamedly admit to being guilty of that on certain occasions. This set of guidelines is just as much for me as anyone else, and will hopefully make the experience of being a Jazz fan, especially in what looks to be a trying season, a much more pleasant one.
Rule 1: Be Tolerant and Respectful of Other Fans
With the exception of a few fans at ESA who’ve enjoyed one too many libations, fan to fan intolerance and disrespect is essentially an online issue. A handy rule of thumb to follow: If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online. As sure as John Stockton ended up with 15,806 assists, any two Jazz fans will not agree on everything. Really, isn’t that part of the fun? Some of the most intellectually stimulating and interesting Jazz conversations I’ve had have been borne out of a disagreement I had with another Jazz fan. This leads nicely into rule 2.
Rule 2: It’s not What You Say, it’s How You Say it
There’s almost always a way to say something in a non-offensive way while still getting your point across. This should especially be adhered to when referring to the performance of a player or the opinion of a public Jazz figure. Does this mean you can’t voice your displeasure or dissenting opinion with a player, coach, front office member or media personality? Of course not, as long as you phrase your opinion fairly and correctly. For example, those of you who disagree with David Locke’s “Oreo Cookie” analogy (which I do, for the most part) could certainly say so without calling Locke an idiot. Once again, I highly doubt most of you are rude enough to call Locke an idiot to his face. If that’s the case, why represent yourself poorly by doing so on Twitter?
Criticism of players should fall under a similar thought process. There’s a huge difference in tone between “Alec Burks is struggling to make the correct rotations on defense and at times seems lost” and “Alec Burks is terrible! He doesn’t know what he’s doing!” It’s also helpful to check resources such as basketball-reference.com for statistics that back up your claim, lest you be proven to be completely wrong later.
Rule 3: Find a Balance Between the Positives and Negatives
It can be a real drag following someone on Twitter who is a constant stream of pessimism and negativity towards your favorite team. It makes for a much pleasant and enlightening experience to find a happy medium between criticizing the team’s weaknesses and lauding their strengths. Obviously, at certain points of the season the negatives will significantly outweigh the positives and vice versa; this isn’t to say your positive/negative comment ratio has to always be exactly 1:1. But if you tend to lean heavily toward the Negative Nancy camp, try to focus on what positives you can find. Conversely, if you’re like me and can be blinded by a default sense of relentless, unrealistic optimism, peel off the rose-colored glasses and take a critical and objective look at the team.
I know what you must be asking yourself. “Who is this preachy jerk and why does he think he can tell me how to be fan?” I don’t. Obviously, you have every right to be a fan in any way you see fit. This is simply a list of three rules that I humbly believe will make the online Utah Jazz fan experience much more pleasant and enjoyable for all parties involved.
I truly believe that Jazz fans are the best fans in the Association. 95% of my interactions with Jazz fans are enlightening and enjoyable. If we can shore up that last 5%, then we can ascend from being one of the best fan bases in the NBA to the top supporting crew in all of professional sports.