Musing: On Anger, Sports & Writing

I’m an angry dude.

On some level – I’ve always known that. My close friends and family have always known it.

knightbookOn another level, however, I don’t even notice it.

When I first started following basketball, my favorite coach was Bob Knight – a seriously angry man. I actually enjoyed – and still do – listening to or reading about his violent outbursts. My favorite book – one of the only books I’ve read numerous times – is ‘A Season On The Brink,’ which chronicled the 1986 Indiana Men’s Basketball team, coached by Knight. For a year, the author, John Feinstein, had complete access to Knight and all his controlling, self-centered, bullying, behavior. None of it seemed out of the ordinary to me.

I get Bob Knight.

I get being that angry.

At the end of this post I’ve shared a clip of 10 angry sports melt downs.

They’re funny – but also kind of sad.

Sometimes my anger is disguised (perhaps poorly) by humor.

At the cross-section of anger and humor is snark.

Urban Dictionary defines “snark” as “Combination of “snide” and “remark” – sarcastic comment(s).

Blogs – especially sports related sites – are feeding grounds for snark and angry criticism.

A little over one month into writing this blog – I’ve had the occasion to reflect on the writing voice that has emerged. It’s clear that at times the voice of the blog – which conceptually reflects the personality of the writer – is angry.

As I’ve previously admitted – sporting events have a unique way of bringing forth strong emotion. As recently as last year, I couldn’t stay inside FedExForum during the Memphis – Louisville game because I was so angry about the (apparent) impending loss. I had to leave early. Memphis ended up coming back to win – and I missed a great comeback.

So yea, sports can bring out intense anger. Fan reactions can be angry. Sports discourse – on radio and the internet – is angry.

Angry discourse is popular. In fact, it is objectively true that anger is the emotion most likely to spread through the internet.

A few years ago researchers at Beihang University in China studying that country’s Twitter-esque network, Weibo, found that anger is the most powerful emotion on social media. Researchers analyzed the network (which has over 500m users) and concluded that angry posts were more likely to spread and go viral than those expressing other emotions.

Here is an excerpt from the study’s abstract:

We find the correlation of anger among users is significantly higher than that of joy, which indicates that angry emotion could spread more quickly and broadly in the network. While the correlation of sadness is surprisingly low and highly fluctuated. Moreover, there is a stronger sentiment correlation between a pair of users if they share more interactions. And users with larger number of friends posses more significant sentiment influence to their neighborhoods.

So basically, on social media, it pays to be angry, snarky, and aggressive.

The problem with this? The problem with anger, especially for a guy like me?

Anger is deadly.

According to WebMd, in a recent study, anger and hostility were significantly associated with more heart problems in initially healthy people. The same study also showed that chronically angry or hostile adults with no history of heart trouble might be 19% more likely than their more placid peers to develop heart disease. This is to say nothing about the effects of anger on family relations, mental illness and other diseases.

Note the distinction between chronically angry and hostile. What is chronically angry?  Chronic means persisting for a long time or constantly recurring. Anger that’s continuous, persistent, recurring, long lasting. This is the kind of anger that others can see that I’m often oblivious to. The kind of anger that can seep out in a blog – and come through in its writing voice.

So – to conclude:

(1) I’m angry – though I don’t even know it a lot of times.

(2) Anger is popular in social media.

(3) Anger is contagious.

(3) Anger is fatal.

Interesting, scary stuff.

Top 10 Angry Sports Outbursts:

Here’s a video about the aforementioned study:

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