- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2002

As a long-suffering Cincinnati Bengals fan, Dave Young holds certain truths most of them ugly to be self-evident.
Among them? The 1990s were a wash. The immediate future looks bleak. The Ickey Shuffle, while oft-imitated, will never, ever be duplicated.
And team president Mike Brown really, really, er, stinks.
"I'm sure Mike Brown as a person is a fine, nice guy," said Young, who runs a video and film editing company in Los Angeles. "He's certainly loyal just look at [former coach] Dave Shula. But he [stinks] at his job. If I was his boss, I'd fire him."
In fact, Young is so convinced of Brown's incompetence that he has put his money and his server space where his mouth is.
Two years ago, Young andfriend Chase Peel created mikebrownsucks.com, a Web site devoted to Brown's mismanagement of the perennially inept Bengals. There, irate fans can lament Cincinnati's 11 straight non-winning seasons, lambaste its lousy personnel moves, call for Brown's dismissal and join a Bengals boycott.
For $16 bucks a pop, they can even order oversized T-shirts that state "Mike Brown [stinks]." In large, block letters.
"It's literally been more than a decade since we had a winning team," Young said. "I'm not sure how you could be a fan and not be frustrated."
When it comes to online antagonism, Young has plenty of company. From Dallas Cowboys bashers to Martina Hingis haters, from New York Yankees detractors to Michael Jordan detesters, the Internet teems with dozens of anti-fan sites, all dedicated to trashing and trash-talking some of the biggest names in sports.
Among the player-hating sites you can find just south of your browser's toolbar:
There is a site for NASCAR's Jeff Gordon that features a defaced Gordon gracing the cover of TV Guide as well as a looping audio clip of the NASCAR king proclaiming, "I'll be the first one to tell you, I don't know a lot about stock cars."
Duquettesucks.com, a Boston Red Sox fan page aimed at former general manager Dan Duquette; when the wildly unpopular Duquette was fired recently, the page's banner was changed to read "Duquettesucked.com."
A half-dozen anti-Notre Dame sites, including one that has petitioned the U.S. Postal Service to stop advertising during Fighting Irish football games and another that, shall we say, vividly lets us know what it thinks of the university.
"It's what's so cool about the Internet," Young said. "The power to get your word out."
Indeed. With a rudimentary grasp of HTML and a few bucks a month for hosting, almost anyone with an athletic ax to grind can do it online. And in the Web's wide world of fanaticism, only two rules apply: (1) anything goes; (2) see No.1.
As a result, site sophistication varies. For instance, the no-frills Lakers Are Losers page offers little more than a rambling, 13-point evisceration of the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans. Laid out in garish, oversized yellow typeface and chock-full of statements like "I see no relation at all between Aristotle and Shaq Aristotle is this smart Greek dude unlike Shaq and I'm guessing Aristotle was not obese," it reads less like an NBA fan page than the Unabomber manifesto.
By contrast, an anti-New York Yankees site treats surfers to a full-on multimedia experience, complete with Yank-hating discussion boards, Yank-bashing jokes, embarrassing Yankees photos, free e-mail accounts that end in "yanks-[stink]" and an interactive game that allows users to deface Yankee mug shots.
The site also sells anti-Yankees gear, including a cap embroidered with "certified Yankee hater" and a T-shirt that reads "Go Yankees" on the front and "back to [heck]" on the back.
"We started out just wanting to sell 'Yankees [stink]' shirts," said site creator Chris Foley, a high school junior from Dennis, Mass. "It was pretty small at first, but as more people started coming, we added on to it."
Humor-wise, anti-sites run a gamut from crass to clever. Often at the same time.
At Steverini's Dallas Cowboys site, the emphasis is on substance abuse and brushes with the law, capped by the conclusion that the 'Boys are less America's Team than "South America's Team." The Official Anti-Martina Hingis Page offers an interactive poll that asks "who is the ugliest player on the WTA Tour?" and gives four possible answers, the first three of which are Hingis and a fourth that colorfully dismisses anyone who doesn't like the first three choices.
Then there's an anti-North Carolina page, which claims to "put the dot-com in Carolina [stinks]." Beyond standard fare such as Tar Heels losses and legal scrapes, the site allows users to e-mail an irate Carolina fan and track the floundering professional career of former Heels point guard Ed Cota through a Carmen Sandiego spoof entitled "Where in the world is E-Z Ed Cota?"
(According to the most recent update, playing in Belgium.)
"It's all in good fun," said the site's creator, Ron, a 43-year-old Winston-Salem, N.C., resident and N.C. State fan who requested that his last name not be published. "Down here, the college basketball rivalries are incredible, and I just want to keep it going, knock the Carolina fans down a peg or two."
Other anti-sites have more grandiose ambitions, relatively speaking. No Canes Hockey, a site devoted to removing the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes from Raleigh, N.C., encourages readers to shun area businesses that support the team.
In Chicago, a pair of tech workers created tradecade.com, a site that collected more than 16,000 signatures some legitimate, some not demanding that the Chicago Bears deal inept quarterback and former No.1 draft pick Cade McNown.
When the Bears finally pulled the plug on McNown by shipping him to Miami, the site retooled. It now features the quarterback in a Dolphins uniform, as well as a new petition directed at Miami's owners.
"We hereby demand that you immediately put an end to your Cade experiment," the petition reads, "and trade him to the highest bidder in exchange for a few clean jock straps, a Gatorade cooler, a new mustache comb for Dave Wannstedt, and/or anything you can get for him."
Young's site took matters one step further, calling for a boycott of a Cincinnati home game against Arizona in December 2000. According to published reports, the Bengals sold just more than 50,000 tickets, the lowest figure for any of the club's eight contests at Paul Brown Stadium.
"I don't want to draw any conclusions, though," Young said with a laugh. "It might have been us. It might have been due to the fact that it was Arizona."
Beyond disgruntled Bengals fans, the anti-Mike Brown Web site also has drawn interest and ire from the NFL, which served Young with a cease-and-desist letter in early 2001.
At issue? "Fraidy Cat," a modified version of the Bengals' tiger logo that adorned "Mike Brown [Stinks]" T-shirts being sold on the site.
Faced with the prospect of legal action, Young agreed to stop selling shirts that featured the Fraidy Cat artwork. However, he refused to remove the image from his Web site.
In a letter to the league, Young also suggested that NFL Properties "would be better served by trying to ensure that those who generate the value of your merchandise stop shooting their pregnant girlfriends, slashing their ex-wives throats, and soliciting $20 prostitutes the night before the Super Bowl."
Said Young: "They basically said the terms I outlined were acceptable, and that the rest of my letter did not merit response. I could have a black square and NFL Properties could come after me. It doesn't matter if it's right or wrong. I have no war chest to fight it."
Ron, the Web master of that Carolina site, can relate. Last year he got into a lengthy e-mail battle with a UNC fraternity.
"It was a scholastic fraternity," he said. "So it was me arguing against 25 Morehead scholars. They're smarter and more devious than I am."
As the war of words escalated, the fraternity posted Ron's home address and phone number on a number of North Carolina Internet message boards. As a result, Ron said, he began to receive anonymous threats and late-night calls.
The fraternity also e-mailed the managers at Ron's workplace, calling him a jerk and pointing out that he was involved in a protracted electronic argument with a bunch of college students.
"I thought, God, I'm going to lose my job over this," Ron said. "But the funny thing is that everyone at my company is an N.C. State grad. Some of them even have Carolina [Stinks] bumper stickers. So most of them got a kick of out it."
Shortly thereafter, the two sides called a truce. Much to Ron's relief.
"They even invited me to come down and visit," he said. "But I'm too old for that. I get invited to Duke frat parties all the time. They think I'm a hero or something."
They aren't the only ones. Ron's site averages between 800 and 3,200 hits a day, and with the Tar Heels men's basketball team coming off the worst season in school history, Ron said running the site is well worth the occasional hassle.
"There are a lot of Carolina fans that hate me," he said. "But it's been a real fun year, a dream come true. The thing that keeps me from quitting is the arrogance of the Carolina fans. There's always something to argue about."
Likewise, Young intends to maintain his Mike Brown site well into the foreseeable future at least until Brown steps down, or Cincinnati steps up.
"People think we're cracking on the Bengals as a team," Young said with a laugh. "We're cracking on the organization. I really want them to win.
"When Mike Brown's career record reaches .500, I'll be more than happy to take the Web site down."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide