Tank Lanning

Viva the digital revolution

2016-09-08 08:28
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

The physical revolt is in full swing via dwindling stadium attendance and TV audience numbers, and now we are seeing an intense and feisty digital revolt from rugby fans that are frankly, "gatvol".

Based on the sudden departure of Bok skipper Adriaan Strauss, and the reactions to jibes on Twitter from Damian de Allende and Morne Steyn, it’s fair to say that it has been noticed.

I have seen a few calls for fans to bite their tongues a bit when having a go at players on social media, but I reckon it’s time these guys took a concrete pill and hardened the hell up!

Booing players has been around for ages. As has spitting on players as they leave the pitch - thankfully mostly in soccer.

Comments on articles and columns arrived with the internet, as did personal blogs allowing anyone to be a publisher.

They hurt. Believe you me, I know - from personal experience as both a player and a columnist.

Social media has just made it even easier for people to vent, and to now get really personal by tagging players in posts.

It’s now almost impossible to ignore.

I feel for the players as they are mostly a bi-product of what organisations and administrators put out there in terms of tournaments, selection criteria and structures.

But they have chosen a path and should know what comes with it - and I am afraid it’s not only fame and fortune. They also don’t have to be on Twitter or Facebook.

So let’s not make like the SABC and not show the riots.

Instead, let’s look at the reasons people are choosing to riot.

On Tuesday damage worth R10 million was caused during a protest in KwaZulu-Natal. It included setting fire to a Social Security office and a water tanker. To my mind it is the sickest form of protest given that people are destroying the very things they need.

But it is an extreme way of getting heard.

I’ll take a few strongly worded tweets over a burnt down stadium!

The point, though, is that rugby fans want to be heard.

So let’s not try and treat the symptom by asking fans to be polite on Twitter, let’s rather look at the reasons they are so damn hacked off. And more importantly, address them.

You don’t treat cancer by giving sufferers of this cruel disease a Panado for the pain in their arm, you attack the source with one of the most brutal “cures” in all of medicine. Chemotherapy not only kills the cancer cells but also the healthy ones. So brutal is the treatment that a new study shows up to 50 percent of cancer patients are killed by the drugs - not the disease, itself!

Comparing cancer to what we have going on in SA rugby right now belittles what millions of people suffering from this brutal disease go through every day, but make no mistake, we have some seriously rotten cells that are threatening to destroy the sport we love.

These I have detailed in previous columns and do not want to rekindle my depression by going through them yet again...

Rugby needs its form of chemotherapy, and that might mean losing a few healthy cells as we purge ourselves of the disease ridden ones.

But don’t ask us fans to take a Panado and stop Tweeting vociferously about the game, instead show us that you are being brave enough to introduce some form of strategy to address the real issues.

Do that, and I think you will see a much more receptive, and respectful, fan base.

Until then, viva the digital revolution.

Tank Lanning is a former Western Province prop and vociferous tweeter from @frontrowgrunt.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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