Fanarchy: A Good Idea By Versus Gone Miserably Wrong

Michael Ielpi@ielpiCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2009

KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY - JUNE 17: American soccer supporters Josh Spencer (L) and Kent Kirkwood, from Dallas, Texas wear a mask and face paint on June 17, 2006 in Kaiserslautern, Germany.  Team USA will play Italy later today in Kaiserslautern. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

I want to give credit to the Versus channel for one thing. There coverage of the Tour de France has been terrific. It is as good of a job by any network as you will find. First, with a capable studio host in Craig Hummer, second, a great play-by-play commentator in Phil Liggett, and two respected analysts in Paul Sherwen and Bob Roll. 

They have a nice pre-race show that opens the telecast. They give you three solid hours of coverage of the race and then have a post-race show complete with interviews and commentary. 

Versus has a few webpages dedicated to the Tour are very good complete with information on every race, standings, blogs and video archives. 

Versus struck gold, or should I say yellow, by being able to acquire the Tour de France. By having exclusive rights to the event and with one the world’s best-known athletes, an American named Lance Armstrong as its star, Versus has itself a very important piece of sports television. 

The fledgling network formerly the OLN (Outdoor Life Network), owned by cable giant Comcast has been able to score some pretty good deals with the NHL, the Indy Racing League, college football, and World Extreme Cagefighting, which owned by the company that owns the UFC and bull riding. 

But, the channel has not been able to recreate that magic with most of the other sports they cover. Its hockey coverage has been mediocre. They were able to televise the Stanley Cup Playoffs and even a few games of the Stanley Cup Final. The television coverage during the game was fine, it was the jarring lack of post-game coverage that left a viewer wondering why the channel decided to skip out on the post-game press conferences to show repeats of someone fishing for bass.

No offense to the fish, but they will still be in the lake in an hour.

Versus launched a show last month called Fanarchy. 

Former ESPN Dream Job contestant Zach Selwyn hosts the show. 

I was excited to see that Versus was going to let fans voice their opinion instead of it always being a sports columnist or former athlete.

It is a good concept for the network; it is relatively inexpensive to run because the guests are unpaid and if it catches on they can charge more in ad fees without any increase in expenditures.

Fanarchy’s tagline is, “Real sports fans with real issues.

These people seem to have serious issues, but most likely they are not sports related.

You can see these people on their web cams, some of which are in their bedrooms, mom’s basement, hourly stay motel, etc. They dress in their favorite team’s jersey; some of them paint their face or their chest, or wear some other form of goofy outfit.

Sorry, but it does not make you more of a fan of your team if you paint your face, get a team tattoo, or buy that $500 customized jersey.

There should only be one mascot, and that person should be on the field.

They call their local sports radio show and say, “I think the Yankees should trade Derek Jeter.” They feel this way because he went 0-for-3 with an error in one game. They forget what the player means to an organization and how hard that player works to make himself the best he can be.

The fine people over at Versus have decided to show us what some of these callers actually look like. Good Lord.

Oh, and if you are a female, you better not be afraid to show at least three inches of cleavage because you likely will not be heard otherwise. That is unfortunate, because I know quite many women who really know their sports, but they would never stoop to wear a bikini top on television.

It is sad because the jersey of the player they are wearing, they probably could not tell who wore that number before on the team. They probably have never read a column by the likes of a Jerry Izenberg or read a great sports book. 

These types of self-proclaimed “diehard” fans are nowhere to be found in the stands when their team is blown out at home.  They also run away from message boards after commenting all week how their team is going to beat up the other team.  

Here is one of their discussions about whether or not tennis player Simona Halep should get a breast reduction. Try not to be too overwhelmed with their lingual skills.

These are exactly some of the people who attend sporting events. They come to tailgate and get completely blitzed and you just pray that someone else is driving them home.

I have no problem with tailgating. It is an enjoyable experience, which like anything should be enjoying in moderation.

But some of these people get so drunk or high that they come to scream obscenities at other fans wearing the opposing jerseys and probably hope to get into a fight. Sometimes, they even fight with their own fans. It’s funny at first, but pretty sad, when you realize they spent hundreds of dollars to see an event they likely will not remember much of the next day.

You will not just find them at sporting events. They are also at your favorite concerts screaming, “I love you (insert singer or band name)” at the top of their lungs blowing out your eardrums. Oh, did I tell you that their seats are about 1,000 feet from the stage and the person that they are telling their admiration for will never hear them and likely does not care too much, because they are already got their money.

The other night, the Fanarchy panel was discussing the UFC fight between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. The person behind the scenes at Versus typed in the headline as Brock Lesner vs Frank Mir. It appeared incorrect for the entire segment. 

It is very difficult to give a new show any credibility when they make such an easy typo.

I have been trying to find a clip of this online, but no one has it. 

There had to have been at least twenty bleeped curse words and it turned into a shout fest.

If I want a shout fest, I will watch those so-called analysts on CNBC or the political clowns on CNN. 

I am not sure how successful Fanarchy has been so far, but it does have its own official YouTube channel and not one video has more than 300 views. Meanwhile, a cat playing the keyboard has millions of views.

I do not want to sound like a bitter old man. But, is this the best we have to offer?

I am 32, and as you get older, things may not be the same as you remember them 10 or 20 years ago. I have grown up, but I have no intention of growing too old to where I do not enjoy sports anymore.

I was never very serious into sports writing, I had a small blog that I wrote in every once in a while, but I did not update it regularly. 

But, then I found this website that some of you may have heard of, it is called Bleacher Report.

Bleacher Report has real sports discussions by true fans with smart commenting and people who can say more than either your team sucks or you suck personally. You can go just about anywhere to find that.

Here it is different. Editors actually give you constructive criticism on your articles and give you valuable tips on being a better writer.

I cannot thank all of you enough for energizing me as a writer, a commentator, and most importantly, a fan.

May the Bleacher Report continue to grow with good writers, great fans, and real conversations that are more about fair opinions than foul language.

Let’s hope that the Bleacher Report does not become Fanarchy in the future. It is a pretty bleeping good democracy right now.