by Mike Coffey
When you operate a sports fansite, you’re exposed to people in all walks of life and at all levels of fandom. The vast majority are ordinary folks who love the same team you do, and your encounters and exchanges with them can be very rewarding.
But there’s a reason the word “fan” is borne of the word “fanatic”. Every now and again you brush up against the outer fringe of the spectrum, and those encounters aren’t nearly as rewarding. In fact, they can be downright unsettling.
I was reminded of some of those encounters the other day on the train, when I read this article about Alabama fan Bobby Livingston, a worker on the construction crew making the upgrades to Kyle Field at Texas A&M University, who was fired for the ways in which he was expressing his fandom at work.
Some of the episodes were innocent, such as flying the Crimson Tide flag at the worksite. But others, hinted at on his social media accounts, potentially were much less so. He claimed he was “wrong-holing everying” in an effort to slow the project down, and bragged about “questionable welds” while (hopefully) joking that fans who sit in that area should be careful.
Obviously I have no way of knowing whether or not this guy actually did those things. One hopes it was simply braggadocio from one Tide fan to others and this guy wouldn’t put the lives of Texas A&M fans at risk, and a logical-person test probably would lead you to that conclusion.
But it’s not a definitive conclusion, and that’s what I find scary.
Yes, he’s probably full of hot air. But a part of my brain remembers counters with the fanatic fringe on the ND side, and that part isn’t so sure. Some folks wrap all too much of themselves and their self-worth in the outcomes on the gridiron and hardwood (not to mention their participation on websites), and it’s not too difficult to see someone like that take things on a job site a little too far.
At the very least, this guy’s love for Alabama (or at the very least his inability to express it correctly) cost him a (probably good-paying) gig. I always said if NDNation started causing problems in my real life, I’d walk away from it in a New York minute. I wonder what Mr. Livingston will choose to do?