Social media shows rivalry is alive and well
Published 7:50 am Thursday, September 5, 2019
Did you know I hate Vicksburg High School?
Can’t stand them. Never have, never will. Every one of the hundreds of stories I’ve written about sports teams from Vicksburg High in the past two decades shows a decided bias against them — even the ones when they’ve won games and state championships.
It takes a lot of effort to be that consistent, let me tell you.
I had planned to write this column about how the Vicksburg vs. Warren Central football rivalry has mellowed in the past 10-15 years. About how blood feud-level animosity has been replaced with friendship and mutual respect. About how a couple of weeks ago Warren Central’s coaches allowed Vicksburg to use Viking Stadium for practice because the Gators’ facilities are still under construction.
Then, on Wednesday morning, a simple scheduling decision made me realize the folly of that thinking.
Every year for this game, we run two preview stories. One deals with Warren Central’s approach to the game, and the other with Vicksburg’s. We stagger our previews each week so that one or two run each day. It gives each team a day in the spotlight.
This time, Warren Central happened to be first in the rotation. Vicksburg will come later in the week.
Warren Central’s preview dealt with Warren Central’s issues this week. There was no mention of how VHS was doing.
Vicksburg fans apparently misunderstood the article’s intent and assumed this will be the only thing we write about the game this week. Rest assured it is not. On social media, however, I became public enemy No. 1 for the day.
“He hates VHS. Always downgraded us,” one Facebook commenter wrote.
“This is pure favoritism,” another commenter wrote, before repeatedly calling it “disrespectful.”
The hashtag “#ShameOnYouErnestBowker” wrapped up another post.
I do have to admit it’s kind of flattering to have a hashtag calling you a jerk.
This experience taught me a few things.
First, the power of social media to turn a misunderstanding into an avalanche of venom is not to be trifled with.
Second, it’s that maybe the Vicksburg vs. Warren Central rivalry hasn’t mellowed as much as I thought it had. Even if there is plenty of respect among the competitors, the rivalry amongst their respective fans and alumni is as intense as ever. That, at least, is one thing I did get wrong.
Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at email@example.com