Chicago Fans: The Darker Side of Sports Fandom

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On Sunday in Chicago, Illinois, Cody Parkey faced one of the biggest kicks in his career. With a chance to advance his team to the divisional round playoffs, the stakes could not be any higher. The first kick he attempted was good, but unsurprisingly Eagles coach Doug Pederson iced him.


I just want to say for the record that I would be in favor of the coach having to run on the field and actually “ice” the kicker by giving him a smirnoff ice. Man, that would be some electric content.


But when round two for Parkey came around, it was a totally different story. He nailed two crossbars and the kick was no good. Such a tough way to end a season for that team, fanbase, and especially Parkey himself.


Chicago fans were obviously very upset after that, so they took to twitter to trash Parkey. Now look, I obviously don’t blame the fans for being extremely upset with Parkey. But these types of reactions show us the darker side of sports.

You can’t help but feel for that guy and his family, as he is staring down the wrath of an entire cities angry fan base.

This is not the first time that Chicago has experienced sports devastation and turned to a scapegoat. We all remember when Cubs fan Steve Bartman got in the way of a ball that turned out to be a home run. The hate and vitriol that he faced from Chicago fans literally forced him into hiding.


This type of fan behavior is for one thing extremely lazy, as much as some may think one play does not determine the outcome of the game. It’s a team sport and a 60 minute game.


I have without a doubt never faced anything close to the type of pressure that an NFL kicker faces during a big time kick, but I can sympathize with Cody Parkey. As a lacrosse goalie myself, you truly feel like the buck stops with you, one mistake in a close game and you feel like you cost your team the game.


But you have to remind yourself that you aren’t playing golf. This is a TEAM sport and it takes a full squad to win or lose a game.


One of my first thoughts after an incident like this happens is how these hateful reactions affect the player mentally. Well known retired NFL kicker and current media personality Pat McAfee experienced a similar situation when he played in College at West Virginia.


McAfee missed a 21 and a 34-yard field goal both in the first quarter, as West Virginia went on to lose 13 to 9 against Pitt which cost them a chance at a national championship. In an appearance on the Pardon My Take podcast presented by Barstool Sports McAfee described his reaction and experience after the game: “I started crying immediately,” “Bottles were thrown at my house, couldn’t go to class,” “I was gonna transfer, I was gonna drop out,” “I felt like I let down everyone.” McAfee received 27 death threats some of which said: “I hope you don’t wake up tomorrow,” “It would be cool if you were never on this earth again.” And those were days without social media, imagine how bad it would be now.


Truly egregious conduct from those fans, and I am really happy for Pat that he was able to overcome those demons and go on to be one of the most entertaining special teams players in the league. The impact that letting down a franchise can have on a person’s mental health is really scary. But some fans could care less about that. It’s all about their team winning.


To those so called “fans” that sent death threats to Pat and Cody: you need to take a long hard look in the mirror. Do you legitimately understand how much pressure these guys have on them? They have one job, one chance to do it and mistakes can have dire consequences. On Twitter in the coming days we will see some ugliness. But my hope is that we see fans and just normal everyday people expressing support for Parkey, and pushing back against the hateful rhetoric.


Oh and also, the kick got blocked so maybe just chill out a little bit Bears fans. If you want to be mad at anyone be made at your GM who kept this guy for so long. Parkey is known to miss kicks frequently, so maybe Ryan Pace should have done a better job choosing their kicker.


Just remember, you have no idea what Cody Parkey is going through unless you have been in the same situation. Regardless of how good or bad at football Parkey is, don’t be one of those people maliciously attacking him. Choose to be a better person, and cut the guy a break.

Jackson Parker

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