YOU CALL yourselfa sports fan? Then why don't you help your team? Screaming at opponents,"You shoot worse than Dick Cheney!" is not enough. Wearing your DUCKFUKE! hat is not enough. It's time to put the madness in March. It's time tocyberheckle.
They're doing iton campuses all over the country. At Colorado, for instance, a pack ofenterprising student hoops fans finds the Facebook pages of the opponents' starathletes and picks out juicy facts. Say a player's favorite movie is DirtyDancing, and his girlfriend's name is Muffy, and his favorite food isdoughnuts. Next thing you know, they're at games yelling, "I just saw Muffyeating Patrick Swayze's cruller!"
Earlier thisseason the merry band of pranksters found a Facebook picture of a ColoradoState hoops player bathing as a toddler with his brother. They blew it up andmade it into a huge sign that read BROTHERS WITH BENEFITS. "I don't feelbad," says Colorado senior Jason Weiss, one of the leaders of theBuffaloes' pack. "It's not like we have to dig hard for this information.It's right there on their pages!"
The group'sfinest moment may have come during last year's basketball season, when itconcocted a fake Facebook page for an amorous and beautiful coed named"Jeanne," then had Jeanne begin cyberflirting with Kansas State starforward Cartier Martin through his Facebook page. Martin, quite naturally,e-mailed her back saying that he'd be in Boulder in two weeks and why didn'tshe call him on his cell and they'd get together?
Next thing Martinknew, Colorado fans were tormenting him with calls to his cellphone. When itwas game time in Boulder, they chanted, "Jeanne! Jeanne!," and shoutedout his cell number as he shot free throws. The Buffs beat the Wildcats79--75.
On Facebook onestudent can "poke" another without limits. The pokee gets a notice onhis page saying, "You've been poked by Sam So-and-so from Faraway U."If the pokee doesn't want to poke back, he must manually delete the message. SIfound 24 schools with groups dedicated to poking the opposing team'squarterback. The Tennessee group has 697 members available for perpetualpoking. That's more pokes than you'll see in a Three Stooges marathon.
Nebraska QB ZacTaylor was so poked out last season that he disabled the poking option on hispage, "but then they just started friend-requesting me and sending memessages," says Taylor, who hopes to be picked in the NFL draft in April."Do you know what a pain it is to delete 500 messages a day?"
If a playerdoesn't have a Facebook or MySpace page, then the cyberhecklers just make uppages for them anyway. For instance, there are 391 MySpace profiles for TigerWoods. So that's what he does with all that time between tournaments. I evenfound a fake one for myself. It was pretty accurate, except the part about mebeing a gay, 25 year-old woman living in Seattle.
Potentially moredamaging is the phony info put on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that userscan edit. Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller is irate over a Wikipedia posting containingfalse information in his biography; it said that he drank a fifth of boozewhile also taking Vicodin and beat members of his family. Zoeller's lawyertracked the posting to a Miami consulting firm and last month filed suitseeking damages.
Then there's thespam bomb. First you create e-mail accounts at any of the free sites such asYahoo or Hotmail. Then you forward all the spam you receive to one account.Finally, you forward all the spam you've accumulated to the poor, unsuspectingvictim.
"I getspammed through the roof," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told me in an e-mail."Spurs, Suns and Heat fans are brutal. They will spam bomb you in everywhich way on a daily basis.... The good news is, it's pretty easy to set a spamfilter."
For sheerguerrilla cyberheckling, though, nobody beats SEC football fans. One of themposted a fake news story under a Birmingham News byline, quoting new Alabamacoach Nick Saban as saying that Mississippi State was funding scholarships"by collecting pop bottles and aluminum cans along the highways," andthat "we will go into Louisiana and take each and every player we want. LSUwill not, nor can not stop me." A lot of people believed it, includingOpelousas, La., Daily World sports editor Tom Dodge, who wrote a column rippingSaban, for which he was then fired.
The moral of allthis? Stay off the Internet, cancel your newspaper subscriptions and stick withthe trustworthy magazine guys.
See you at theYoung Seattle Lesbians meeting.
If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One group concocted a fake Facebook page for an amorous coed named"Jeanne," then had Jeanne cyberflirt with K-State's Cartier Martin. Hegave "her" his number.
RIFFS of REILLY
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PETER READ MILLER