This weekend the Washington State football team took on Arizona and actually won. It was a big and necessary win to keep WSU’s bowl hopes alive. But if you were following the game on social media, you might have gotten the impression the whole point of the game was to get revenge on someone named Megan Coghlan.
Coghlan is the sports editor at the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student newspaper, and she penned an essay for Yahoo Sports bashing the Cougs:
The possibility of Washington State beating Arizona this weekend does not keep me up at night. In fact, the chance of the Cougars having any sort of advantage over Arizona is not something I'll ever worry about. WSU, you should be worried.
Arizona has a lot to brag about, not just in football but in many areas. Let me count the ways.
First, I have yet to meet a legitimate Cougar fan. I may not live in Washington or spend much time there, but the Washington Husky fan base is serious business. Sorry to bring up a touchy subject, it can't be fun living in the shadow of your "rival" Washington. Your program just won't be as relevant as the famed Huskies. I'd like to say I understand what it's like to be the lesser in-state rival, but I can't relate.
When the Cougs actually won, Coghlan became the designated target of WSU fans’ celebratory rage. Fans found her Twitter account, forcing her to make it private. They found her on Instagram. They posted the college newsroom phone numbers for her and the editor-in-chief. Within the state, #MeganCoghlanSucks was briefly trending on Twitter. Someone made a not-very-funny parody Twitter account. Some tweets directed her way were absurd and generic enough to be more funny than mean. “Megan Coghlan listens to Nickelback.” “Megan Coghlan tells children Santa isn’t real.” “Megan Coghlan sucks more than Pac-12 refs.”
But a lot were just plain mean. Not even trying to be funny.
And there were some loyal Cougs who questioned whether this was a good idea. It’s done, they said, maybe it’s time to lay off.
But lots of people didn’t.
Now, I’m a lifelong Coug, so I know WSU fans don’t get much occasion to practice being good winners. And you know I’m loyal because this tweet from a so-called journalist made me pretty annoyed:
Asshole. Stay out of our business.
But he’s exactly right. WSU fans, you’re embarrassing yourself. You’re embarrassing all the rest of us. Do you get that she’s a real person? That she probably got assigned to write that essay? Do you get that angering you was the whole point?
And, worse, the abuse directed Coghlan’s way took a decidedly sexist turn. It’s totally possible a male writer would have gotten the same backlash, but he would not have been called a “slut,” an “ignorant bitch” and much worse.
“She asked for it.” “She had it coming.” You get that’s the language of rape apologists, right? She didn’t ask for anything. She wrote an essay, probably because someone else told her to, and then a whole bunch of other people play a football game. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And if Arizona had won, that would have been the end of it. So now I imagine most of the conference is saying, “Yeesh, good thing WSU doesn’t win more often.”
Fans who’ve been participating in this: It makes you look desperate. It makes you look like an ignorant pack of witch-burners. Most of all: It draws attention to the fact that you don’t have much experience with winning.
And all of you who somehow think this “ruins” her writing career? You’re completely wrong — unfortunately, “getting attacked by strangers on the Internet” is practically a job requirement these days for journalists with opinions (and some say a big reason we don't have more women writing opinion). Coghlan didn’t hide; she came back with this indignant but completely justified response to her weekend of abuse. I suspect (and hope) she’ll be fine. It’s you I’m worried about.