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The Revenge of the Birds Community and the Hedgehog’s Dilemma

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Fans should strive to be like Larry...an opinion on the state of the ROTB Community from @blakemurphy7

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last night there was a column posted by our own Revenge of the Birds editor Seth Cox calling for a different approach for Cardinals fans specifically for some of those involved within our own Revenge of the Birds community.

The gist of the article was this:

I wanted to echo some of these thoughts with a few of my own in support of this idea for our community. Now before I begin, I do want to make three things clear about this article...and what this request first and foremost is NOT.

So to be clear:

  1. This is NOT Me or the ROTB staff as a whole defending bad moves or choices by the organization or asking for blind devotion as fans—why we are here is for critical discourse obviously
  2. This is NOT an attempt to stifle opinions, creative thinking with the Cards or original ideas that we disagree with, (because that’s stupid: everyone deserves to have an opinion and goal enjoyment from free thought and discussion)
  3. This is NOT calling out specific individuals or individual opinions to get revenge on them or flex any sort of power (because that’s also dumb and takes the impersonal to make it personal)

With that out of the way, here’s the crux of what I think has been seen and felt by many in the Revenge of the Birds community coming from the top, and it’s that there’s a toxicity taking hold within the organization that’s unhealthy commentary versus healthy and productive debate.

What want is to make this website and discussion boards by Cards fans for Cards fans about the team. What’s happened more recently, however, is a feeling of HUGE backlash against the team as a result of keeping the general manager, almost to a point where fans seem to be rooting for the team to fail just for the general manager to leave and there’s almost an air of hopelessness...and to be frank it could be seen as a bit confusing after coming off a season of optimism.

But it probably shouldn’t be. Cause of the Hedgehog’s Dilemma. I will explain for those unfamiliar...

The Hedgehog’s Dilemma is a simple concept about how human interaction can be painful. Essentially, it’s a metaphor comparing the human condition to a group of hedgehogs huddling together in the cold for warmth: spines hurt.

In short, the closer you are to something or the more you love it, the more it’s likely to hurt you (or you to hurt others)...so it’s an argument to keep your distance to a point or be willing to live with the pain.

And most fans have, let’s be honest, what they feel is a VERY close relationship with this team, myself included, because that’s what being a fan is.

You could even argue that being a Cardinals fans IS painful given the team’s history over the last 100 years, but that’s more of a joke and besides the point...

The past few years in particular, fans have especially been pricked.

The team’s had an abject period of organizational failure from Arians’ retirement and re-emergence to the Steve Wilks “one and done” fiasco which included Mike McCoy and Sam Bradford in addition to the team’s hope around a young franchise QB only to one and done him as well for Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray...and then seeing the team’s offense improve but still see a 6-game losing streak due to the 31st ranked passing defense.

Yikes. Understandable there’s bound to be some backlash.

For those close to the team it’s been almost like an abusive relationship in that regard for those who have had higher expectations for the team. That’s perfectly normal. A lot of fans, honestly, I think “divorced” themselves from the general manager specifically over this time following his DUI and the brutal 2018 season, like breaking up with an ex.

And then he landed Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray, who together produced a much improved season in Arizona, and won two games at the end of the season, showing progress enough to make it clear that the team was taking a step forward and the GM would be safe and...I think fans were disappointed.

Almost like rooting for an ex to end up miserable with someone worse than them because they were wrong to leave you, in a way. Problem is: they have nothing to do with you anymore.

You gotta move on.

And I think there’s a lot of fans who either have been hurt so badly or taken it so personally that they don’t want to...like still being angry at your ex when you’re with your new partner.

Think they’ll want to be around you? Even two people who moan and complain and bond over their frustration at their bad relationships eventually fall apart cause that’s not a foundation you can build a relationship on outside of some Hollywood revenge fantasy movie.

So yeah, it feels like like you wanted to break up with your ex, they dated someone who was absolutely terrible (named Mike McCoy and Steve Wilks) and then they turned it around and found someone who was way better and maybe didn’t deserve them (aka Kliff and Kyler). While STILL having some of the same issues?

Makes sense that fans would be disappointed cause...

It feels like there was vengeance or “justice” thwarted for some and I can understand that. They feel like “Keim got away with it and kept his job!” and the answer is...so what? That happened. It’s got nothing to do with you and it’s a choice to be angry. Often that anger, in the moment, can even be justified.

But it’s not good to stay that way forever, bitter and filled w/ anger lashing out in comment sections like it’s a sports therapy session.

Like I said above—ya gotta move on.

Keim’s staying for 2020 and with that box checked, a lot of fans need to move on.

There’s small amounts of bitterness or vitriol I think that’s appropriate, but it’s fans who seek to stir the pot and create a continual toxic cesspool on the topic not only hurts yourself or the other fans here but the reputation of Arizona Cardinals fans as a whole.

Is it just a small portion of this site’s community who are a part of it? Undoubtedly.

But it’s big enough that a lot of people are getting fed up to the point of trolling or lashing out and if that’s you...then there’s no harm in admitting or seein that this might not be the best platform for you to rant and rave against the team doing something you don’t like to the point of excess.

Opinions and discourse and disagreement are fine, don’t hear me saying something I’m not and think that I’m wanting to ban free thought.

Think of it like the boardroom and a meeting room versus gearing up to run into the trenches blasting with all the malice and cruelty...maybe the internet has passed it by but I feel like it’s still acceptable to be able to disagree with someone or something without it becoming an attack on your identity.

Most people, honestly, won’t notice many changes at all on this site outside of, hopefully, improvement and we hope that all that will happen is that it’ll weed out pieces of toxicity,

Cause frankly? It’s gotten to be too much to handle; it’s not fun. The internet might be a toxic cesspool in many places but I don’t think this site, or this fanbase, has to be. To put it into a more understandable term:

An easy example might be...how would Larry Fitzgerald act?

Fans grew sick of Tyrann Mathieu complaining about how fans attacked him, his play and how he moaned on Twitter and blocked fans who disagreed with him.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald was welcomed back because while he might have issues or disagreements, ultimately he’s at heart a Cardinals fan and a football fan overall who wants to do what he can to help his team.

Meaningful discussions create meaning versus comments or posts like:

“how many times can I post slamming Steve Keim getting a DUI 2 years ago in 1,000 plus words on this article about Fitzgerald’s community service project and that I want the Cardinals to lose every game until he’s gone because it makes me soooooooo mad! Angry Face! >:(“

...uh, you get the point.

And maybe while none of us might ever be Fitz...it’s not a bad model to work off of in whatever role we may have as fans, eh? It’s a great challenge to get better just as the team itself seeks to get better.

And I, for one, am excited at the prospect of the 2020 Cardinals and all that they could accomplish; it’s a time to be united as fans vs. divided.

And I hope that Revenge of the Birds as a whole will be a place for that.

Because—if those 3 rules above are broken and it does become way too “corporate” or things get personal, don’t feel wrong in calling us or mods out if you feel that things were done in error or the like, as long as the intention is the same: to improve the dialogue of Arizona Cardinals fans as a whole. It’s a delicate balance but we’re upping our game and we’re asking you to up yours in return (and it’s not asking for much!)

I’m excited and can’t wait for it. Why?

If it means that I can spend more time in the comments sections of my own articles dialoguing with fans on a personal note and responding to more tweets without having to block out trolls are outright anger and disappointment...I’m all for it.

And I think most fans would be too, in seeing this site take off and be a genuinely fun place for dialogue, critique, analysis all while rooting our Cards on.

Ultimately it’s a choice to make to be better and I’m making it and holding myself accountable as are we all here at Revenge of the Birds in the hopes of this being THE best #AZCardinals site on the interwebs.

I know I’m ready for it.

And I hope you’ll be ready for it too.