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Aaron Ramsey and Constructive Criticism

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We lay out TSF's stance on player criticism, and how that relates to Aaron Ramsey

I am going to slap that afro right off your damn head
I am going to slap that afro right off your damn head
Laurence Griffiths

Over the last few weeks, there has been a fair amount of criticism leveled at one Aaron Ramsey 'round these parts. There has been an equal amount of gnashing of teeth by those who wish to defend Ramsey, and the two sides have gone back and forth a bit on the whole Ramsey issue. This post is neither to criticize or to praise Aaron Ramsey. What this post is for is to tell you how we at TSF expect commenters and authors to behave when criticizing or praising a player.

The shape of the recent Ramsey criticism has gone something like this:

RamseyHater: I HATE THIS GUY HE'S NOT VERY GOOD
RamseyDefender: NO YOU'RE WRONG HE'S AWESOME
RamseyHater: HE SUCKS
RamseyDefender: HERE ARE SOME REASONS WHY SAYING HE SUCKS MIGHT BE A BIT HARSH
RamseyHater: WHATEVER HE STILL SUCKS WHY ARE YOU SLOBBERING ALL OVER HIM

and this goes on. And on. And on. It doesn't really matter who is right and who's wrong; it's just a tedious discussion that never solves anything, and only serves to irritate both a lot of TSF posters and the mods that have to clean up after them once the bar's closed, so to speak. So, we mods have a request. It's mentioned a bit in the guidelines, but you can consider this the official, proper, TSF-Says-This-Is-How-We-Want-To-Be stance on this matter.

We do not care if you like or dislike Aaron Ramsey. Your stance on him is your business, but when you come here and comment, you make it our business. We want our business run a certain way, to keep it interesting for everyone who reads, comments, or is interested in commenting but hasn't yet.

When you are criticizing a player - any player, not just Ramsey - it is not enough at TSF to say THIS GUY SUCKS. If you do that, you will be politely asked by one of the mods (or one of the commenters if they are so inclined) to provide evidence for your stance. This is not sports shout radio - you don't win prizes for "having a take" here. If you say someone is bad, you are expected to argue your case with compelling evidence. If you do so, expect a healthy debate (which the mods will ensure stays civil) about your stance from people who disagree with you - that's what we want. We want a good discussion among people who hold contrary viewpoints. If you choose to only denigrate those who challenge you, to not provide evidence to prove your point, or to stubbornly insist that you are correct in the face of evidence presented by others that you might be incorrect, you will not be around long.

When this discussion that TSF wants to foster does occur - be it about a player, a tactics choice, or the running of the team - it is also not acceptable to resort to name calling, straw-man invoking, or ad hominem attacks in response. If someone challenges your point, challenge back, intelligently. Keep the debate going, and keep the personal stuff out of it, or, and I hate to sound like a broken record, you will not be around long.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying (insert player here) is a great player, or that (insert player here) is a bad player. Or team, or tactic, or whatever. But there is something wrong when you can't or won't accept evidence that is presented to prove the contrary, despite what you want to believe.

This all may sound heavy-handed, but I assure you it doesn't have to be; we at TSF just wanted to make explicit something that's been on our minds for a while now, so that you know what to expect and what's expected of you.