Fire the Bum!

Has your favorite sports message board been overtaken by the cries of “Fire the Bum� and the counter-argument “Support our Coach�? Are you ready to drive off of the Information Superhighway to avoid the redundant drivel? Have you considered posting a warning sign for unsuspecting travelers: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here�?

Experienced cyber-surfers are well aware of the various “Flame Warriors� that inhabit internet discussion groups. Sports message boards have a few additional species that are detailed below. Seasoned readers of sports boards will no doubt recognize many of the frequent posters on their favorite board. For the less experienced readers, you can use this list to identify the various characters that are already on your newest board….just another public service from SFN.


We’ll start our classifications with several fairly weak warriors. Their arguments are tired and lame…but they are all too common.

Excuse Generator
No loss is ever the coach’s fault. If you don’t believe me, just ask the EG….he will explain it to you. If a coaching controversy is not brewing, the EG will find a beleaguered player or assistant to support. This warrior rarely wins a battle but is also nearly impossible to defeat….because he never runs out of excuses.

Wizard of IF
Somewhat related to the EG, the Wizard of IF is a master of alternate realities. He peers into the past, speculates about changing one or two things (or drags out old lines from the EG), and tries to make past defeats disappear. The Wizard of IF is not a particularly strong warrior, but is rarely defeated…simply because no one is willing to wade into his strange mixture of facts and fantasy to do battle.

The coach can not do anything correctly….even if the team has won. The Nitpicker explains this after each and every game. The Nitpicker is really in his element after a loss and will drone on and on until the next game.

Roster Watcher
Scarred in his youth by his attempts to participate in youth recreation leagues, the Roster Watcher closely charts the appearance or absence of every player on the team….especially Billy Blue Chip. Many losses can be directly tied to the coach’s improper use of the bench or failure to “develop� the players….and the RW is quick to point this “fact� out to anyone foolish enough to listen to him.

Flipper changes sides so often that you never know which side he is on at any given moment. In general, no one ever engages the Flipper in battle. Why bother?….he’ll be back on your side in a few days.

Sheep & Pollyanna
The last two groups do not really qualify as Flame Warriors….they’re really more like obstacles littering the battle field. They are often confused with stumps and with each other:

Sheep only believe what they read from “official� sources. Sometimes this only includes the drivel dispensed by an “official� team source, sometimes it might extend to newspapers/magazines, and occasionally will extend to on-line news sources. However, never expect Sheep to draw their own conclusions no matter the source of their information. They merely parrot whatever conclusions have been drawn for them.

Pollyanna’s are most often seen in the off-season. They blissfully drone on and on and about the glories that will be witnessed next year. Problems or problem areas are ignored because the coach will have everything magically fixed by next season. Players who weren’t good enough to play last season will have a break-out season next year. If Pollyanna is to be believed, every player on the team will play a key role next season. When the season finally arrives, Pollyanna disappears as soon as reality sets in.


The following species are the major players in the coaching battles.

This species can be found on either side of the argument. The standard attack draws parallels between the current coaching staff and those from the past (any team, school, sport, or era). The conclusion is that the current coach is destined to follow the exact same path…either to glory or disgrace.

Regardless of which side of the argument he is on, this species cannot see the logical fallacy in this entire line of argument. Just because something happened before is no guarantee or even indication that it will happen again. As a frustrated student once said, “History never repeats itself, historians just repeat each other�.

The anti-thesis to the Historian is the Prophet. The Prophet can also be found on both sides of the argument and disdains the use of logic or statistics. This species has the magical ability to peer into the future and is all too willing to share his visions with the rest of us. No explanation is ever given as to why the Prophet with his unique ability inhabits the internet instead of Wall Street or Las Vegas.

The mystical visions from the Prophet of WTNY (Wait ‘til Next Year…or the year after) are shrouded in vague statements such as the coach “bleeds garnet and gold�, he “works tirelessly for the team�, or he has “great potential�. The Prophet of WTNY can be confused with Pollyanna during the off-season, but remember that Pollyanna disappears once reality sets in…the Prophet drones on even in the middle of a bad season or losing streak.

The Prophet of the Apocalypse proclaims that the coach “can never win the Big One� or that “our team is doomed to failure as long as he is here�. This prophet often joins forces with the Historian as he grasps for straws to help support his visions.

Stat-King uses long lists of “facts� to support his proclamation of “trends� and his ultimate conclusion. The selective use of facts and arcane trivia allows the Stat-King to participate in both sides of the argument. Stat-King vs Stat-King inevitably leads to the comparison of “pedigrees� and the declaration that the “other Stat-King� is clearly incompetent.

When a line of reasoning starts with “even an idiot can see� or “someone with only half-a-brain could see�, doesn’t that mean that the author may be an idiot or have only half-a-brain?

May Fly
In the world of entomology, the adult (or winged) May Fly lives for a short time during the month of May. On the internet, the May Fly lives for 24-48 hours after every game, regardless of the final score. They are manageable during winning periods, but quickly become tiresome as the losses begin to mount. If the coach is untouchable, the May Flies swarm around assistants or players until a scapegoat is found. The May Flies also serve as a warning. The longer they are unhappy, the greater the chances that a coaching controversy is looming.

The May Fly is especially irritating when the message board is entrenched in battle over the current coach. Every victory, no matter how weak the opponent, justifies supporting the current coach. Every loss is further proof that the coach needs to call his realtor immediately.

Defender of the Faith
The righteous Defender leads the support of the current regime. He is multi-faceted, having mastered the arguments of Stat-King, Historian, and the Prophet. Players, past coaching staffs, current assistants, opposing coaches (acting in conspiracy), the media, the Powers that Be (PTB), and the referees are blamed separately or in combination for the team’s losses. For the Defender, the current head coach is merely a victim of circumstances that he will correct. The words “ostrich�, “sand�, “smoke�, and certain body parts are often included in personal attacks against the Defender.

A somewhat related species is the Defender of the Past Regime. These posters will fight-to-the-death over any perceived slight to the “memory� of a previous coach. The Defender may even fight for the coach that was “wrongly� dismissed by the PTB. This particular species often ignores Stat-King but can be found allied with Historian or Wizard of IF.

Matching the religious fervor of the Defender, the Crusader constantly attacks the current coaching regime. The Crusader hopes to somehow influence the PTB to remove the obviously incompetent coach. He is adept at all of the standard arguments, but generally prefers Stat-King combined with Prophet. The Crusader sees himself as King Richard, leading his troops on a noble quest. Comparisons to a lynch mob or cross-burning clansmen are often made in counter-attacks against the Crusader.

A related species is the Crusader for the Savior. These posters not only have decided to fire the current coach, they have all but hired his replacement. All that remains is to get the PTB to see things their way. The Crusader for the Savior utilizes any and all techniques to chart the path to the Promised Land.

    NOTE: Both the Defender and the Crusader are easily recognized by the sheer volume and sometimes length of their posts. Not content with a single thread, both of these species prefer to keep many threads rolling at the same time. No thread is safe from these two…any topic can be quickly dragged into their favorite arena.


Unfortunately, the great coaching debates are never truly over and go on hiatus for only short periods of time. There are only a handful coaches that can be considered untouchable by the inhabitants of the darker corners of the internet. Nearly everyone else is fair game for a lively debate.

Now for the real conclusions:

Did you find yourself and think that I was personally attacking you? If you are so clueless that you can’t laugh at yourself, then chances are that we won’t get along very well. Please move onto some other place on the internet.

Did you find the message board characters that most irritate you? If so, I hope that you got a good chuckle.

Did you find yourself in the list and also get a chuckle? If so, then you are my kind of people and I hope to hear from you….on this or on future entries. At SFN, we are always interested in hearing from people mature enough to handle the truth and to discuss it intelligently.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

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27 Responses to Fire the Bum!

  1. Dan 05/16/2006 at 3:05 PM #

    I gladly accept the twisted role of half Defender of the Faith and half Prophet of the Apocalypse.

    Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m a schitzoprenic, and so am I.

  2. TPack 05/16/2006 at 3:26 PM #

    Not really on a message board, but Chicago Suns Time Reporter and ESPN’s Around The Horn panelist Jay Marrioti is a perfect example of a Flipper.

    Me? I tend to take a few traits of various parts of those. Not really one that quite fits. I enjoyed it though, I found a few message board characters on there…

  3. redfred2 05/16/2006 at 3:31 PM #

    Looks like I am way down at the bottom of that list also. Some things never change for good reasons.

    “NOTE: Both the Defender and the Crusader are easily recognized by the sheer volume and sometimes length of their posts. Not content with a single thread, both of these species prefer to keep many threads rolling at the same time. No thread is safe from these two…any topic can be quickly dragged into their favorite arena.”

    I am truly a loser.

  4. Packof82Cards 05/16/2006 at 3:36 PM #

    Since I mainly read and don’t post all that often I would have to fall in the “minor warriors” description. Maybe a hybrid of the “Wizard of IF” and a “Roster Watcher”. I’m bad about dwelling on the “what if’s”. Good stuff though!

  5. BobLee 05/16/2006 at 3:41 PM #

    The first blog candidate for SFN Hall of Fame. Suggest reposting this in late August …

    Good job guys! … 🙂


  6. old13 05/16/2006 at 3:55 PM #

    Fire Foulup!! (Now where did I leave my horse and suit-of-armor!)

  7. jncope 05/16/2006 at 4:00 PM #

    That was a great read. Very funny.

  8. BladenWolf 05/16/2006 at 4:09 PM #

    Excellent post.

    I laughed at some descriptions and said “Uh oh” to a few as well. Pretty funny stuff.

    I know the reference to Fire the Bum usually refers to coaches, but what about Athletic Dictators? … I mean Directors. Sorry… Freudian slip.

  9. cfpack03 05/16/2006 at 4:23 PM #

    And with all our powers combined,we form… The Lunatic Fringe

  10. redfred2 05/16/2006 at 4:27 PM #

    To futher cement my place at the bottom of that list, I was reading back over some of the current threads, and noticed I had the final posts on many of them. Nobody even bothered to comment after me. I guess they figured, “Just let him have the last word, that’s the only way he is ever going to shut up anyway.”

    I really need to get a life.

  11. Jeff 05/16/2006 at 4:44 PM #

    This entry is AWESOME!!!

    Thanks so much for this.

  12. VaWolf82 05/16/2006 at 4:56 PM #

    I really need to get a life.

    Then who would we make fun of? 🙂

  13. BJD95 05/16/2006 at 6:50 PM #

    Hey, a little self-awareness is a good thing. And if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

  14. Pack92 05/16/2006 at 6:54 PM #

    SFN, you guys are killin’ me! I am laughing SOO hard!

  15. Pack93Dec 05/16/2006 at 7:07 PM #

    I only discovered this world after “He who walks in the desert” left. I have yet to find an identity. I very much enjoyed this read though, and recognized some of the characters. I am looking forward to becoming what ever I become LOL

  16. Dan 05/16/2006 at 8:03 PM #

    Side note to SFN:

    I frequent the Fordham baskeball webblog. They have the funniest feature ever. Anytime anyone attempts to write a post that includes the name “Bob Hill”, it is automatically censored and replaced with “The Bad Coach”.

    Just an idea.

  17. GoldenChain 05/16/2006 at 10:51 PM #

    This is a great read and so true!lol
    How about The Follower; he has a ‘Godfather’ that he repeats and defends no matter what the Godfather says. He never has an idea of his own but protects his ‘family’ at all cost.
    The Copycat generally can’t think for himself but has mastered the art of copy-n-paste. He’s never created a Good Idea on his own but he recognizes them when he reads them.

  18. GoldenChain 05/16/2006 at 10:58 PM #

    There’s also a PaddyThrower too. My mentor in business said that once in a while you have to throw a cow paddy near the ceiling and depending on its consistency it will slide down until it reaches its critical mass then it will stick.
    The PaddyThrower will throw a paddy at the ceiling and then sit back and laugh while everyone else kills themself to defend it or refute it. The Paddy Thrower never sticks around when the idea starts to slide.

  19. GoldenChain 05/16/2006 at 11:17 PM #

    Of course the BrokenRecord thinks that if he repeats the same idea long enough it will take root and grow. Most recently a BrokenRecord would have been saying something like “yeah but 5 NCAA’s in a row..”

  20. VaWolf82 05/17/2006 at 8:41 AM #

    GC, those are some good ones.

    In case anyone missed the link buried in the first paragraph, this site has a ton of generic Warriors and illustratons. It takes some time to go through them all, but they are quite good:

  21. Dan 05/17/2006 at 10:13 AM #

    I hear from other boards that Doyle is at it again calling NC State the worst coaching job in the country. DO NOT GO THERE TO READ IT. It only helps him.

    I just got finished cancelling my sportsline account and moved my FFL league citing Doyle for the reason. If anyone hear has any accounts with CBS, I would encourage you to do the same without ever visiting a Greg Doyle article again.

  22. cfpack03 05/17/2006 at 11:32 AM #

    This entry is not about Doyel or his trash. Dan’s warning should have been enough.

  23. Dan 05/17/2006 at 12:03 PM #

    Obviously, “the idiot at CBS” qualifies as a Flame Pawn.

    He doesn’t deserve a fancy name. “Troll” and all that the name implies should be sufficient.
    Don’t Feed the Troll

    Troller is looking for a response…ANY response, and he will chum the waters with complaints, insults, compliments, and inflammatory tidbits hoping that someone…ANYONE, will take the bait.


  24. westwolf 05/17/2006 at 12:39 PM #

    This is a perfect example of why bloggs are so popular. This essay was more creative, insightful, and interesting than anything I’ve read from a local journalist in years. What bloggs like this have revealed is that most local journalists: Doyle, Tudor, et al. have recognition based on being hired by some editor, not as a result of superior writing skills, ability to do research, insightful analyis. They were hired at a low level when they were younger, and have simply stayed a newspaper long enough to move up based on attrition.

    Excellent article!!

  25. Packof82Cards 05/17/2006 at 1:31 PM #

    I know that my link about Andrew Brackman’s injury was off topic but there wasn’t anywhere else to post it. Does anyone at SFN have any info about this? I figured that the good people of this forum would like to know about things like this. If your going to delete the post then can you address it? If you aren’t in the progress of doing it already.

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