100 Questions: What's different about fans today?
***Yesterday's Question HERE***
In an attempt to pass the time this off-season we're fortunate to have secured the help of scottwildcat from Boscoe's Boys. Scott is going to provide 100 questions about the past, present, future (and who-knows-what) involving Kansas State sports, and I'll do my very best to answer them.
Let's dive in to the 100 Questions.
Question No. 79: What are the biggest differences in K-State fans between now, and in the late 1990s?
There are, of course, endless things we could discuss here that are different.
A lot has changed in the world, sports and Kansas State in the last 20 years or so, and if I tried to compile a complete list of what's different I'd inevitably leave out dozens of important notes.
So, I'll just focus on one difference: The growth of the internet and invention of social media.
Obviously these changes aren't unique to the Kansas State football fan base. They are, however, the things I think have most impacted K-State fans.
In the late 1990s not only was K-State extremely successful, there also weren't nearly as many places to share emotional reactions to things that go wrong on the field, in recruiting or within the program.
A lot of those thoughts still existed, but they were either shared with friends or, well, kept inside somebody's own mind.
Now, whether it's through Twitter, Facebook, or even our message boards, fans have an avenue to express how they feel - happy or sad - in real time in front of an audience. And, for better or worse, other fans are impacted by those thoughts.
I'm not trying to portray these changes as a problem. If they are, for clarity, I'm a big part of it. I was on message boards and Twitter as a fan, and as a journalist I'm responsible now for hosting far and away the largest, most active K-State sports message board you'll find anywhere.
I'm not pointing finger here, or else I'd have to start with myself. I don't think these changes are necessarily bad, just changes.
On top of all of that, the internet and social media has brought far, far more information to everybody's fingertips. I imagine a relatively dedicated fan today knows significantly more about the Wildcat program today (including the "bad" things) than they did in, say, 1997.
The combination of increased access - plus fans' ability to share their own thoughts in a medium exactly the same way a player, coach or writer would (social media) - has created a bit of a culture where it's cool to be critical.
A post or Tweet slamming the performance of a player or the decision of a coach is a way to show followers and friends you're an expert. An old-school, happy-go-lucky fan just posting support of his team will generate far less buzz than it used to.
I know has probably come off critical, and maybe it is? I'm guilty of always wanting to slide to the positive side, and I see plenty of things on social media or elsewhere that makes me, personally, cringe a little bit.
There's a TON of criticism out there I think is fair, accurate and appropriate. Probably even the vast majority of it. I don't think being critical in a semi-respectful manner is a problem, at all. I'm attempting to note it's just more popular than it's ever been, and that's the biggest change I see.
It's important to note again, however, this is not a criticism of K-State fans. It's not even really intended as a criticism of anybody. College sports fan bases across the country have all evolved significantly since the late 1990s, and I imagine in 2040 we'll look back at fans' actions in 2019 and see massive, massive changes once again.
And, hopefully, I get a chance to answer a question from Scott about it then, too.