HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

December 10, 2007

Support your team: create a group

By Jesse Menden

Back in the day, there were basically two ways to support a local sports team: go to a couple of games a season, and occasionally wear a jersey or shirt with their logo on it.

Quite frankly, that is not enough anymore. Cheering for your team has become a year-round task, with many people taking their interests to the Internet.

One area where that is happening is on the social network called Facebook. It is arguably one of the growing ills of society, promoting Internet messaging and a general lack of personal interaction, but it has become a hotbed for fan clubs and a way for people to follow their teams.

When plugging “Minnesota Twins” into the search engine, over 400 clubs come up. They range from the basic “Minnesota Twins Fan Club,” to “Dick Bremer & Bert Blyleven – the Greatest Local Play-by-play Guys This Town Has Ever Seen.”
Among my personal favorites is “Johan Santana Stay in Minnesota Campaign”

You could get a million people to join that one, and it still won’t happen.

There is also a group for “Real Twins Fans, Not Just People Who Bought A Hat This Year.” Guilty as charged.

In jumping-the-gun fashion, there is already the group “Minnesota Twins World Champs 2008.” I’m assuming that group of 300 members was created before the Twins let Torii Hunter go and before the Tigers swung the best deal of the offseason.

I will admit, the Facebook bug did bite me back in the day. I got into group-creating mode at the prodding of a friend and created “Minnesota Twins: World Series Champs in 2005.” The Twins posted an 83-79 that season and broke their streak of three division titles in a row after finishing 16 games behind the White Sox. The group jinxed the Twins and that was the end of Facebook groups for me.

Of course, today’s groups are much more than my little fan club ever was. Now there are full-blown groups where they have photos, video, chat boards, trivia, and much more. Some groups have become cult-like, where you gain points for recruiting others to join the group and drink the Iron Range Red-colored Kool-Aid.

While the Twins and Wild have some fun groups, they don’t even compare to the groups created for the Vikings. They range from calling for the signing of free agent quarterback Jeff George, to groups created about the “love boat” scandal that are mostly unfit for print.

Also under the Vikings groups are several player fan clubs, and it isn’t hard to tell what players are doing well on the field. “Vikings’ Lil’ Troy the Superstar,” a group for Troy Williamson fans, has just three members. In contrast, “Adrian Peterson: The Future of the Vikings” has over 2,000 members.

As you might guess, not all of the groups are in total support of the local teams. “I Won’t Be Alive to Witness a Minnesota Vikings’ Superbowl” falls under that category. So does “A Minnesota Catastrophe – The Minnesota Vikings (1961-present).” I’m sure those groups were created with some tough love in mind.

And there is my personal favorite, “People Against the Idiot in Minnesota.” The group’s picture is of Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress.

Continuing the tour of the local professional teams on Facebook, there are almost 100 groups created in the name of the Timberwolves.

In looking at the groups, I stumbled across one that so delusional, I had to check it out. The group, “Minnesota Timberwolves Western Conference Finals 2007-08” almost seemed too ridiculous to be true (they currently have the worst record).

The description of the group actually has a little different tone than the title. It states, “This group has been created to acknowledge that the Wolves will make the Western Conference finals, if not the NBA finals, during the 2011-2012 season.”

Even that is a stretch, but it is more of a reality.

Ironically, the most popular group to be found was “FIRE KEVIN MCHALE.” I am their newest member.

No matter what team you are for or against, there is a group for you on Facebook and elsewhere. In fact, I might get back into creating groups. My first group will be “Minnesota Twins: Winning Half of Their Games in 2008.”