Have you ever despised a sports journalist for being critical of your favorite team?
Have you ever replied in defense of your team with a letter to the editor or a message board bashing of the author?
You are not alone if your answer to both of these questions was an emphatic yes.
Sport is entertainment that evokes an emotional response, so it is natural for fans to be as defensive about teams as they are about family.
By a similar token, it is extremely difficult for sports journalists to write bias-free material.
Trying to achieve complete objectivity is much like trying to achieve perfection in writing—it is an unattainable ideal.
A writer will never be perfect because his or her landscape is in a state of constant flux.
Writers must constantly adapt to the evolutionary changes of their chosen language, which makes their craft an art, not a science.
These inherit problems need not strain the relationship between writer and reader. Each is entitled to express their opinions in the manner they so choose.
But often times it can be difficult to accept opinions so vastly different than your own.
Which begs the question: Is being critical of your favorite team an act of mutiny?
Answers to this question vary, but I am inclined to argue no. If one's team is struggling, one has the right to question why.
Is a true fan allowed to be critical of their team?
At the risk of being slightly over-dramatic, consider the following questions as a comparison:
If a business is faltering, should its model not be questioned?
If a government is failing its people, do they not have the democratic right to ask for change?
Would you remain quiet if a family member was in trouble?
Being critical in sports—just as in life—is a form of care. Fans do not need to sit idly by if they disagree with the operations of their favorite team.
That is not a shot at fans who prefer to remain quiet and cheer for their team regardless, they have the right to. But if you do remain quiet, I argue that you do not have the right to call a critical fan a mutinous.
All fans need to understand and accept that support has many forms, and being critical can be just as supportive as remaining quiet can.
No matter which athletes you follow or what teams you cheer for, this is an issue that transcends sport. The bond between writer and reader is only good if the relationship continues.
So the next time you vehemently disagree with a sports journalist, stand up and have your say, but be open to doing so in a respectful manner.
Nobody is right and nobody is wrong—that is the beauty behind personal opinion.
Follow Matt Wiseman on Twitter for up-to-date NHL news and analysis.