The Value of Tribalism Online

tribalism

As society becomes ever more sophisticated, the urge to be part of a tribal community grows more powerful. Modern Westerners go to great lengths, putting plugs in their ears, getting tribal tattoo bands, or doing all sorts of disgusting things to their bodies to stand apart together.

Who needs surgery when you have sports?

When you run a sports site, tribalism is your best friend. You band together with your fellow supporters of Team A and unite in your disgust of Team B. Their colors are awful! The coach is a bastard! The people are not as good as we are!

Actually, that last one you need to be careful about. It’s very easy to get sucked into a mentality that says that all opponents are bad or inferior and you can guess where that leads you. As a matter of fact, it’s not a bad idea to go out with the other side sometimes, just to remember that, as you don’t need ear plugs to belong to a tribe, you don’t need to smear the other side, either. We’re all just folks.

But that’s not to dismiss the value of, shall we say, genial taunting.

In our area, North Carolina’s Research Triangle, we have three schools in the same conference: Duke, North Carolina, and North Carolina State.

The rivalry between Duke and UNC is very well known, but the rivalry with State and UNC is just as intense and more ugly.

And at times, more fun.

This of course presents tremendous opportunities for traffic. Here are a couple of examples.

As you may know, UNC has had a tremendous scandal involving academic fraud and athletes.

At one point a football player was declared ineligible. He sued to regain his eligibility and several items were introduced as evidence.

Within hours – mere hours – some enterprising State fans had proven that the football player had plagiarized a paper he had introduced as evidence (thus redefining chutzpah, by the way). All of this was first posted on an NC State site, which then received national prominence – and a massive boost in traffic.

This sort of villainy is not limited to the Triangle.

At one point, some Maryland fans managed to get the cell number of a Duke star and convinced him that he was talking to a co-ed who was infatuated.

This later became great fodder for Maryland sites.

And when Dean Smith retired as UNC basketball coach, both State and Duke sites found a key source of short-term traffic.

The point is as valuable as your own fans are, the other sides are just as important. If you can find a way to simultaneously ridicule and engage them, you will profit handsomely.

JD

I have been writing for the web full time since 1996. My areas of expertise are sports, legal, home improvement, optometry and creative content. I have an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a B.A. in English. You can call me JD.

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