Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kentucky Wildcats: 2017's Worst Fanbase (For Now)

There are bandwagon fanbases like the New England Patriots (Cheatriots). You got fanbases with nut jobs like the Alabama Crimson Tide guy who poisoned trees that Auburn University had for a very, very long time. Then there is the Kentucky Wildcats for basketball. Ever since John Calipari took over, they have had a good run under his tenure despite one and done players who go into the NBA very quickly like Anthony Davis. Like any teams in the North Carolina area (Duke, UNC, NC State), they have a very ravenous fanbase that is ultra excited. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean much now in the wake of what is going on with referee John Higgins.

This past weekend, Higgins refereed the Kentucky game against North Carolina. It was a nail biter, and both teams were down a bit and came back a number of times. Less than 10 seconds in the game, the Wildcats put up a three and tie the game 73 to 73. The Tar Heels go on to the other side of the court, shoot a jumper and take the lead 75 to 73 with 0.3 seconds left on the clock. Ultimately they won, and whatever comebacks Kentucky had was all for nothing. You would think we wouldn't stop talking about the game, but in the eyes of the Wildcat fanbase, it pretty much stunned them and then turned into anger.

I've just learned of the constant death threats that Higgins was getting. I wish I could tell you that I've never done that, but that would be a lie. Usually 99 percent of the time, I have second thoughts and get rid of whatever I said. It's not worth it. What is going on with the referee goes beyond e-mail and phone calls to his home. He has a business and the "fans" are putting up negative reviews not even related to what Higgins does and putting up very bad threats that I will not show. It doesn't stop there. His business was getting called called constantly. Friends and family were getting some of the threats. The fact that he had to go to the cops and the FBI really shows how dangerous and bad the situation is.

It reminds me of something I read about a few years ago regarding a nut job feminist's views on video games.I pretty much don't care what Anita Sarkeesian has to say since most of what she says is pathetic and anybody mentioning her is just adding fuel to the fire. She found herself in the crosshairs of many gaming fans who harassed her and wanting to kill her. She went to I think the FBI for some convention that she was she going to speak at and someone was thinking about killing her at wherever that place was. That really was a black eye for video games.

Back to Kentucky, this is not the first time, nor will it be the last time someone in college sports gets threatened with deaths. There was a field goal kicker for Boise State who missed some critical field goals around 2010. Because of that, fans were putting up death threats over those misses. I think people go into these games expecting players to be exactly like professionals. They got yips just like everybody else, especially if you're on television. With money involved with fantasy sports, it's hard to know if some are actually fans or if they are just hoping for the team in fantasy they want to win and make 100 dollars.

Two games come to mind in professional sports in a pre-Internet era. The 1985 World Series for MLB featured one of the biggest missed calls with Don Denkinger calling a guy safe instead of being out.It ended up with the Kansas City Royals winning the rest of the series and the title. That really hurt his rep and the death threats were were very high. Denkinger shrugged it off and continued umpiring for at least another decade, but that's his legacy. The other one was in 2001 with the Cleveland Browns, long before social media was a big thing. While I'm not sure if this one had death threats, the amount of stuff thrown could have seriously hurt not just the referees, but players, too. Long story short, the Browns convert on fourth down. They try to get a first down play done immediately. As they start that, the refs looked at the previous play. This was just when instant replay was back following a playoff incident in the 1999 season. They reverse it, and Browns fans start throwing bottles as the discussion was being made.

Higgins is not the only person that makes the calls. He's not the one who makes every decision. There are a few other referees who have to make those choices on whether there is a turnover and whether someone was fouled. Calipari complained about the game being called, which shows how much of a loser he is. That's his M.O. going back to his days of UMass with the infamous fight with then Temple coach John Chaney in early 1994. Even though UMass won, Calpari still whined about the referees and Chaney had enough, going to the other side and saying he'll kill him and beat him up. You would think for a guy that has been sanctioned at two colleges that there would be a little showmanship for officials, but it's stuff that older people know about more than me that will shake their head at this situation.

I have this belief that one day, refs and umpires will be replaced by robots, more so with the NFL considering how awful some of their referees were this year. A lot of judgment has to be made and whether or not to make a call or keep the game going. Unless you're a buffoon like Joe West, a lot of those officials are human. Some mistakes you can easily ignore, but some of the blatantly obvious ones are not gonna fly in today's world. I just worry that one day comes and a referee gets hurt or killed by a "fan". I hope that never happens, but the lengths some people take, that could be something to comes to reality and precedence will be made to protect the people who make sure a game goes smoothly.

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