Let them cry foul. Along with accessing photogenic Web sites – such as Facebook – Temple students can now get into the heads of opposing basketball players.
And no amount of police tape or security guards can stop them from poking the opposing point guard.
Not since third-year graduate student Steve Vomba created a Facebook group keen on badgering the opposition with an onslaught of silent messages.
While sending a friend – or stranger – a “poke” may suggest you’re thinking about (romancing) them, Vomba said poking the opponent in masses conveys a similar message for his group “Poke the Opposing Point Guard (TEMPLE CHAPTER).”
“The definition of ‘We’re thinking of you’ might apply, but not in the romantic sense,” he said. Just as indefinable is the poke itself. Even Facebook, the Web site that knows what you wore to bed, doesn’t exactly know what function the ‘Poke’ serves. “We have about as much of an idea as you do,” the site states in its FAQ missive.
“We thought it would be fun to make a feature that had no real purpose and to see what happens from there.”Along with harassing point guards into carpal tunnel syndrome, Vomba has found a definite pulse from Temple’s student body. A self-described “huge sports fan”, Vomba wants to “drum up any support” for a school scouring for scraps of school spirit.
“I think it helps,” the law student said. “I come from a marketing background. I think students get more involved. They may feel they have more of a connection to the game.”
If not anything else, it at least shows that many students have a connection to the Internet – and enough time to endlessly foul the opposition with a barrage of keystrokes.
Vomba said he spends about five minutes a week galvanizing his group into cluttering the guards’ inboxes before games. He knows he couldn’t have achieved this without teamwork.
“Put them in their shoes. You know all these fans have been poking you all week,” he said.
Without solicitation, Vomba has netted 641 members to heckle the point guards into aggravation. And unlike the balls they dribble, some point guards can’t handle it.
“It was thousand pokes and I hated deleting them,” wrote Vomba’s eighth target, Steve Horton, the starting point guard from Ball State University, after tallying 3 points, 3 assists and 3 turnovers in a 75-70 Temple win.
In good-nature, Vomba asked his members to please touch the seventh exhibit, Towson University’s reserve point guard Tim Crossin, days prior to Temple’s 75-70 victory.
“I probably recieved more than a hundred or so pokes, I usually check my facebook about once a day and over a course of a few days i just kept getting all of these pokes and it definitely took a couple of minutes to hide all the pokes,” wrote Crossin, who also scored 3 points, via Facebook. And it’s not just for home games; the group’s reach extends past state borders.
“I think it is a good idea to maybe try and get in the players head but it would have probably been more true if we had played at temple. It also shows the support of the students towards their program,” Crossin continued.
While there are other groups dedicated to poking opposing teams’ point guards, quarterbacks, goalies and goalies’ girlfriends (see University, Quinnipiac), Vomba’s group is the largest of the basketball variety, exceeding the 343 members in the group for defending national champions University of Florida, “Poke the Opposing Team’s Starting 5 (UF Chapter).”
One such group got to one of Temple’s own. A number of the 103 members in the ambiguously-named tribute group for University of Pennsylvania, “Poke Penn Basketball Players”, tried to push the buttons of Temple guard Dionte Christmas.
“As a matter of fact Penn just did the same thing to me,” said Christmas, the sophomore business management major, hours before lighting Penn up for 34 points in a 74-72 loss. “I think it’s cool and it definitely shows school spirit.”
Inspired by the group “POKE the opposing quarterback,” registered on the network of his Alma Mater University of Washington-Seattle, Vomba created the Temple group – and his Temple Facebook account – knowing the idea had no boundaries. Vomba said, “I thought since this is more of a basketball school, it would be cool to do it for basketball season.
Steve Wood can be reached at email@example.com.