Love is a Battlefield

Paul Balm on the sometimes extreme factions of Panthers fan base, and where The Cat’s Whiskers sits.

Nothing turns on itself quicker than the fan base of a team that isn’t doing very well. You only have to have a run of a few poor games and the various camps and factions are springing up everywhere. In one corner of the battlefield you’ve got the Doom Mongers sharpening their axes as they know heads should roll, over there are the Blindly Optimistic fans praying to the god of hockey for the upturn in fortune they know will come. There’s a strange group, just over there behind the battle scarred hillock, who sit somewhere in the middle. They’re the optimistic but realistic types. The Doom Mongers and the Blindly Optimistic don’t really trust them. They tend to see things in black and white, you’re either with them or against them and someone who sees things from both sides must be, by definition a little odd.

Ok I’m being a bit flippant and I’m not really telling you anything new here but it feels to me that, at the moment, the whole of the Panthersnation (I really don’t like that phrase but I guess it has it’s uses) is stood somewhere on that battlefield. Opinions are divided about how good, bad or indifferent this team and this club are. As ever the Doom Mongers and the Blindly Optimistic are getting increasingly vocal about what should be done and those in the middle just feel at times like we’re getting in the way.

Let me give you an example that will hopefully help make sense of what I’m talking about. This week, for possibly the first time ever, we, here at The Cat’s Whiskers have been accused of being both too negative and too positive. And both of those comments came from Panthers fans. It’s quite impressive when you think about it but that’s where we are. It does go to show how divided the fan base is at the moment though.

When you do what we do you’re always going to get people commenting on what you say or write. That’s normal and it’s fine. No, actually that’s wrong, it’s better than fine. It’s good, it’s great, it’s what in a large part we’re trying to do. We’re trying to kick start the conversations and find out what other fans are thinking. That’s why we have Ask TCW, that’s why we put out tweets asking for other people’s opinions. If you want to tell me this article is a load of cobblers you can comment at the bottom of the page (I think) and if you can’t there’s always Twitter, Facebook, email or even (and I appreciate this is only for the really brave) face to face interaction. You can do the same if you like it as well don’t forget. If we don’t want this interaction we wouldn’t do what we do but it can be a dual edged sword at times but you have to take the brickbats as well as the bouquets and we’re sticking our heads over the parapets to tell the world/country/immediate area what we think and we have to be able to take it on the chin if people disagree with us and I think by and large we do that.

But I would say that anyway wouldn’t I.

There is one thing that does irritate me though (you knew there would be didn’t you) and that’s when people tell us what they think The Cats Whiskers is or more pertinently what it should be. As far as I can work out what happens is that we say or write something that a person disagrees with and instead of saying “I didn’t agree with that point” they tell us what we should be saying. To use an example from this week, take this protest that some people are calling for – apparently The Cats Whiskers should be spearheading it. Now, I get what they’re saying. I really do but I have some problems with simply being seen as a hod carrier for other people’s ideas. Don’t get me wrong I think, and I have said numerous times, that there is something very badly wrong with the way that the Nottingham Panthers do some things. I’ve questioned everything from their priorities to their recruitment to the fact they appear to not know what a spell checker is (quickly checks the document so far) and, if I think the need arises again, I’ll still do it. That’s how it should be, I don’t want to blindly follow the club without questioning what they do if I feel it is needed. Some might, I don’t. That’s their choice. But none of that means that I’m immediately going to throw myself behind every idea against what Panthers are doing. I also believe that as part of The Cats Whiskers we have a greater voice than many. We are, possibly, listened to by more people and, maybe, they take more notice because of who we are. I don’t know whether they do but I suppose we can dream can’t we.

So should we be voicing our concerns? Yes. Should we therefore automatically throw ourselves behind every single initiative because someone thinks we should follow their idea. No, I don’t think we should. We have to consider each and every one of them. I hope in the near future we cover the Supporters Trust idea in more detail as I, personally, having attended the first meeting believe that it represents the best option for moving the concerns that people rightly have forward.

I know this won’t change anything. It’s just words on a screen. Things will go on the way they are, the Doom Mongers will keep on sharpening and the optimistic will continue to be happy and The Cats Whiskers will continue to be somewhere in the middle (and yes I know I’ve said that that makes us strange). There’s a very good reason for that and it goes back to my previous point about what The Cats Whiskers is/should be. There’s only five people who really know that – Jono, Andy, Aaron, Tina and me and I think if you asked us you’d get five different opinions. You’d also get five different opinions on quite where on the battlefield The Cats Whiskers camp sits. I’d possibly put us a lot closer to the Doom Mongers than Tina would and that’s the beauty of it all. The more opinions we have, the more points we can put across. Not to make sure we appeal to as many people as possible but to show that not everyone sees things the same way and sometimes, maybe, it doesn’t hurt to listen to a differing opinion. I’ll probably still think they’re wrong and vice versa. The main thing is that there will have been a conversation and that’s what counts, not how many people agree with you or how entrenched you are. If you see that as fence-sitting then so be it. I call it an exchange of views and I’m happy to be part of it.

I don’t really know what to say if you don’t like how we’re doing things without sounding harsh. There’s no real way to soften the blow so here we go. It seems to me you’ve got three choices:

1) You can realise that listening to the podcast is a choice you make. Thanks for watching/listening the shows you have. It would be nice if you kept listening but I can understand your decision.

2) Make suggestions, interact with us but remember that whilst all suggestions are gratefully received, may not be taken up. You won’t be alone. I don’t necessarily agree with everything we do now and I’ve made plenty of suggestions in the past but most of them were rejected because the rest didn’t like it or they just weren’t possible. It happens.

3) I’m sorry this last one is really harsh but what we do isn’t rocket science. If you’ve got a point of view that you want to put out there and you don’t think anyone else is doing it then have a go at it yourself. If you want to write then use a blog site like WordPress and use Audacity to do your sound editing and Spreaker or another podcast hosting site (sorry they don’t let me near the technical stuff) if you decide you’d rather go down the podcast route. None of things will cost you a penny. If you have a voice you want to be heard use it.

%d bloggers like this: