One of the best and worst things about the Internet was the creation of message boards, especially when it comes to sports.
When your team beats their big rival, you get bragging rights for the year. Lose the big game and suffer the online consequences.
For the most part it is all in good fun because those privileges can be snatched away as quickly as they come. A bounce this way or that way and the script can be flipped as the long-time losers suddenly become the team to beat.
Some online posters forget the conventional wisdom of being a gracious winner or loser and ridicule the opposition’s fans. Or even their own players and coaches.
I will be the first to admit I question coaches’ decisions as much as the next person. Why didn’t he call for a pass? Or why didn’t he run the ball? Why did he put that player in the game, when the other player is much better? Why call a timeout? Why didn’t he call a timeout?
In the end, I always defer to the coach because they are like a chess master — thinking two or three moves ahead and they know their players better than anyone else.
I recall New England coach Bill Belichick intentionally snapping the ball out of the end zone for a safety to go down by three late in a game against Denver several years ago.
At the time, 99 percent of America thought Belichick was crazy and the rest believed he was really crazy.
Belichick got the last laugh.
The Patriots ended up stopping the Broncos after the free kick and won the game on a Tom Brady to David Givens touchdown pass with 36 seconds remaining.
Sometimes Belichick’s gambles don’t always pay off. He decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 from his own 28 with just over two minutes left in the contest against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in 2009. The Patriots were stuffed and Manning added to his lore by leading the Colts into the end zone for the game-winning score.
Was Belichick blasted by his fans for his decision? Absolutely and they had every right to do so. Of course they forgot he led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in four seasons.
That didn’t matter because for that week Belichick was the dumbest football coach in America.
The same thing is starting to take root here in Richmond County.
Despite being 11-1 and three wins away from an eighth state championship, some fans are questioning if Paul Hoggard and his coaching staff are smart enough to lead the Raiders to another title. While others are firmly in Hoggard’s corner.
All of these RSHS supporters have the right to state their opinion as long as it doesn’t cross certain thresholds and this week it has.
And it’s not the first time. This is a serious black eye for the Raider Nation, which is the envy of just about every other program in the state.
Sports are supposed to be a rallying point for a small community, bringing everyone from all walks of life together on chilly fall Friday nights, but right now lines are being drawn in the sand and dividing the fan base.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.