As much as the media likes to wring its hands about vicious anonymous Internet sports fans contributing to the downfall of Western civilization with their uncouth attacks on the media, rivals, coaches, athletic directors, and the NCAA, the truth is that fans have long found ways to give voice to their concerns/taunts that have nothing to do with a computer. Like, for example, the billboard.
This billboard popped up in South Bend, Indiana, the other day. In case you live in a sports black hole, you’ll recognize it as impugning the lackluster coaching abilities of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. This is just the latest in a long lines of rather clever sports billboards put in strategic locations. But how does it stack up against the great sports billboards of the past? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Sports billboards tend to fall into two categories: angry messages to the management and taunts to rival fans. The above is an example of the former, as is this more straightforward billboard erected in Cincinnati by disgruntled Bengals fans (is there any other kind?):
In fact, the Bengals are rather unsurprisingly a regular target for these sorts of billboards. There’s a lot about the team’s management for fans to be angry over, like their battered wife-like refusal to ditch Chris Henry:
And sure, it’s fun to laugh at Bengals fans for a while for their plight, but righteous anger only goes so far. The real classic billboards are those erected (heh, erect) with the sole purpose of taunting rival fans. Because rival fans suck and are stupid and smell bad, you see, and their teams are horrible failures and all the rest of the things that fans are convinced of. This one was erected by a website devoted to destroying the myth of USC football’s dynasty:
Even in South Carolina, fans have discovered the power of a USC rivalry billboard of a different sort. Neither Clemson nor South Carolina has done much in the way of winning against other schools in football, but to each other, their intrastate rivalry means the world. And really, who’s gonna pass up an opportunity to poke fun at Steve Spurrier?
But the best of all, of course, was this billboard erected by a group of Kansas Jayhawks fans to mock their fierce rivals, the Missouri Tigers. The Quin Snyder era of Mizzou basketball was a miserable failure by almost any objective standard, but for KU fans it was a particularly delicious time to be a rival - the Tigers were not just bad on the court, they were a mess off it too, most of which was due to the nosecandy-loving habits of their Dukie head coach. KU fans, of course, were not about to let the Snyder era die without a fight:
Not even God could save that guy’s job, unfortunately. Got any more great billboards we missed? Send us links to your favorite billboards on Twitter (@petegaines) or in the comments and we’ll post them.