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Comes In Waves

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One of my great interests in life is the study of human behavior. I regret my lack of expertise about the subject, but I still pursue it superficially.

In recent weeks, I've been witness to all kinds of criticism aimed at the Purdue basketball team. Because of current technology, such criticism comes at you in waves. Chat boards, blogs, tweets, talk shows. You name it, it's in front of you!

Look, I've been criticized my whole career. People either like you or they don't. So be it. What I find interesting is how so many people not only want to get their point across, but do so viciously. Secondly, many people want to get the same point across repeatedly.

I used to have a critic who became obsessed in his dislike for me, and that's when it becomes absured and unhealthy.

Sports fans want their team to do well. What so many people don't digest is that so do the coaching staffs and players of those teams. So when the criticism is ongoing and emphasizes the same points over and over again, what is being accomplished?

After the Purdue-Ohio State game, I spent some time on the Ohio State chat boards and was amused by so much criticism aimed at the team, which is 21-3 and leading the Big Ten. What was really telling was the criticism aimed at Coach Matta, who has won nearly 80 percent of his games since arriving in Columbus.

What this says to me is that you can't stop human behavior. If you don't like it, don't seek it out. I understand why so many coaches and athletes resist reading the papers or checking the chat boards.

The thing I've pointed out before is that someone who doesn't have to identify himself becomes much braver when criticizing others. Some people try to do it for fun and try to antagonize on purpose because a strong reaction promotes a sense of accomplishment and brings pleasure.

Let's understand one easy premise: most fans don't call sports programs or post online. The comments you see are posted by the same individuals over and over again, and usually don't represent the views of a particular team's overall fanbase. They basically represent the thoughts of a person who just wants to be heard because he or she can be.

What it all comes down to is that we all feel more important than we really are. Should I consider my thoughts as printed here more substantial than Joe Fan's on a chat board? I don't think so. It's a place for me to share my opinions without knowing who is going to read them. Naturally, my opinions here will be slanted to the positive in regards to Purdue. That's a given.

I'm also not being shielded by an anonymous screen name.

How do I handle the recent criticism of the team? Poorly, but that's me. I really like the coaches and players.

My hope is that we start a winning streak and make some hay. I realize the players, coaches and support staff have much more invested than a fan, but the bottom line is always gauged by wins and losses.

No matter how loud the criticism, winning usually diminishes it.

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