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Football and the Internet: Playing Games

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Football and the Internet: Playing Games

Troll, Troll, Troll your boat.

If you’re a follower of Mike Freeman on twitter, you’ve heard that phrase before. This morning Freeman tweeted out a link to a story by a Dublin man named Leo Traynor. Mr. Traynor tells his tale of being on twitter, being harassed and threatened, first online and then at his house. It was a chilling tale, a real tale.

In the end Mr. Traynor was able to track down his troll and confront him. When asked why, the Troll replies, “it was like a game thing…”
A game.

Internet bullying is a game.


After the debacle a week ago Monday, many Packer players took to twitter to vent their frustration. Now internet famous, Packers guard, T.J. Lang broke a twitter record for most retweeted tweet and gained over 90,000 followers with his postgame tweets.

The game is over. The team has moved on. But twitter has not. A quick look into Lang’s timeline and mentions and one can find comments that range from friendly jabs to hate speech.

What crosses the line? Is a fan calling Lang a douchebag okay? How about one who says, “Discount double check is for queers #allpackerfans”?

And what about the responses? To the douchbag comment, Lang makes a funny jab back, “you spelled badass wrong.” Yet to someone who said the Packers got owned by the Seahawks, Lang makes a comment about the person’s weight and seems to mock lesbians.

And it is not just Lang or the Packers. Search any player after a loss or bad play, almost a sure bet that there will be one or two “Trolls” commenting away. Some funny, some dumb. Some harmless, some rage filled. Players have received threats; their family members have received harassing tweets all because of a game.

When did frustration over a game turn into vile for a person family? When did it turn into seeking out people to harass them? When did differing opinions turn into sending mail, finding out home addresses? When did it mean, even 8 days after the game and tweets, people still need to continue the conversation?

Football is just a game.


This morning T.J. Lang tweeted the following:

So far his mentions have been filled with kind words, prayers, condolences. The good of the social age we live in. And yet, at some point, there will be the inevitable troll who takes a tragedy and plays with it.

Internet bullying is just a game.


Last Sunday, I sat at my computer and watched a group of people, some that I had met and some that I may never meet tailgate for the Packers versus Saints game. The bonds that we can build over the internet can be real and life changing. I wouldn’t be here, writing this now, if it weren’t for twitter. If it weren’t for making random connections, Throwback Weekend would never have existed.

And yet, these connections, this forum to say whatever we want, to whomever we choose, can also be used as a weapon. From name calling, to bullying someone off of twitter, to sending ashes to someone’s house.

Football is just a game and so apparently is internet bullying.


*Author's note: There has been an update to the Dublin man's story and some "fishy" details in it. *

Jayme Joers is a writer at CheeseheadTV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of CheeseheadRadio. She also contributes to and You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (7) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bugeater's picture

Good reminder. Sometimes its easy to forget here are actually people on the other side of these user names.

Evan's picture

People have been acting tough on the internet since 1994. Nothing new. It's just the number of ways to do it now are forever increasing.

And athletes who put themselves out there are easy targets, which is a shame because I love athletes who aren't afraid to be themselves (Tom Crabtree, Chris Kluwe, Jermichael Finley, etc...)

I saw Lang's tweet about that woman's weight and at first was like "ehhhh...not the smartest thing to say for a public figure." But screw that lady. If you're going to act like an ass and disrespect a total stranger on twitter, you deserve what you get in return.

PackersRS's picture

I honestly don't have a problem with this. Maybe it's the context I live in, where deaths on soccer stadiums and surroundings, though not a normal thing, don't shock anyone.

I don't agree with it, but people shouldn't be hurt by words sent by someone they don't know over the internet. There're so many worse things in life, that it's not worth it to be bothered by it.

I actually feel bad for these people. What kind of lives do they live that they take their time to rile people over the internet and take pleasure out of it?

Beep's picture

I rarely tweet, most of the time I just follow the twitterverse since its often difficult to concisely express an opinion in 140 characters or less. But on facebook and message boards that do allow for more expressive thoughts, I've found that simply responding to a troll by replying only with "Troll." is very effective. Calling someone out instead of playing into their trap ends the bullying game quickly.

mudduckcheesehead's picture

Anybody know what happened to T.J.'s family?

overkill's picture

Good point. With Lang on this one.

overkill's picture

Rather God bless him, help him.

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