Puttting the Best Face on Bleacher Report

RG YohoCorrespondent INovember 21, 2008

If you have ever been on a sports message board, then you know the rudeness and venom that are routinely spouted off by some of the participants.

We have all seen the message board “tough guys,” the ones who seek to intimidate everybody who dares to disagree with them. They are rude and arrogant little men, starved for praise and attention.

Occasionally they even threaten bodily harm on those who fail to bow down before their “great wisdom” and “matchless sports knowledge.” Often they ruin the message board experience for everyone involved.

You can even see the same thing here on Bleacher Report.

The Internet is clearly a wonderful invention; however, the anonymity it provides often brings out the worst in people. That is why I have chosen to place my name and face on my writings—all of them!

One of the bulletin boards that I routinely post on and communicate with other fans has my nickname on it. Yet if you look at my profile, you will find my name and face for everyone to see.

My face may not be pleasant for you to look upon, but I do not hide it from anybody who chooses to read the things I write. Maybe my appearance keeps some from reading my opinions. My friends often suggest that I have a face made for radio.

But I am quick to add that my late mother never grew tired of looking at me. Some of that may be directly attributable to the fact that mothers often favor their children and that, in her later years, mom’s eyesight was failing due to her diabetes.

But I digress.

Accountability is certainly a great thing. And the lack of accountability on the Internet is often the reason why these cyber thugs spew filth on message boards and type hateful responses to articles, things they wouldn’t have the courage to say in person.

Nobody knows who they are. Nobody can hold them accountable. And there is no public stigma attached to their multiple instances of bad behavior.

In my daily life, I generally try to be friendly and personable to those around me. It has always been my goal to be a good neighbor and an asset to my community. Moreover, I think this same attitude is shared by the great majority of those on Bleacher Report.

However, the willingness to form strong opinions and to boldly share them with others does not make someone a bad person. That quality must never be confused with rudeness. In fact, it is exactly the prescription for good writing.

Whether or not you choose to agree with my opinions, I am certainly not ashamed of them. And because I can be readily identified as the writer, it often motivates me to be a little more careful about those things I choose to post on-line.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally write or post something that would have been better kept to myself. I have often said or written things that I wish I could take back. Yet, I am confident those instances occur much less frequently because I choose not to camouflage my identity behind a nickname and an avatar.

Sometimes when we are tempted to give in to our worst urges and behavior, we instead choose to surrender to our better angels. This rarely happens when someone is not worried about the consequences or exposure that the boorish and thoughtless words might bring their way.

Accountability often brings out the best in people in much the same way that anonymity brings out the worst in them.

No doubt there are writers and readers on Bleacher Report who choose to keep their identities secret. That is certainly your decision to make. Perhaps there are also some great reasons why you have chosen to do so.

It is you who must look yourself in the mirror when you are shaving or putting on your makeup. I am just telling you what I have chosen for me.

Bleacher Report has flourished because there are a host of devoted fans out there with strong opinions about sports. Some extremely talented writers are among them. Their willingness and skill to share their opinions with others makes this a good forum for those who love sports.

These writers bring a lot to the table.

Share your opinions, respond to the articles, and let your voice be heard. But please don’t let your anonymity make you an unwanted guest at the feast.