Peeking Behind the Raptors Reddit Curtain

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Fire Nick Nurse!

It didn’t matter that Nurse was named the NBA’s 2019-20 Coach of the Year Award winner just days earlier or that he had just led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship in his first year at the helm, when fans are angry after a Game 7 loss, someone gets blamed.

In today’s social media, instant reaction, and hot take culture, that’s the kind of thing you see online after a devastating loss.

Trade Kyle Lowry! Cut Pascal Siakam! Everyone must go!

On some social media platforms that nonsense is everywhere after games. You’ll see the wackiest, wildest opinions about rejigging the starting lineup, increasing playing time for the back of the bench players, and just about every idea imaginable from the armchair head coaches. Yet on Raptors Reddit, a subreddit for Raptors fans with over 256 thousand subscribers — or Dinosaurs as they’re called — those hot takes are hard to find thanks to the ten moderators whose job it is to ensure the page is full of intelligent and interesting discussion.

That’s why 20-year-old Landen Danyluk from Brandon, Man., signed up to be a moderator for Raptors Reddit prior to the 2018-19 season. He wasn’t even a Raptors fan until the 2017-18 season when he said he heard how good the team was and decided to start paying attention. Since then, he’s become a true Raptors fanatic, rarely, if ever, missing a game. So when Raptors Reddit moderators decided to open up new moderator positions to help manage the approximately 100 thousand new subscribers that flocked to the page toward the end of the DeMar DeRozan era, Danyluk applied.

“I guess it just comes down to wanting to be a part of the community and want to help out the community,” he said.

Considering he took over the position during Toronto’s championship season, Danyluk said he had never really seen what Raptors Reddit is like after a heartbreaking loss. Then, on September 11 when the Raptors lost 92-87 to the Boston Celtics in Game 7, that all changed.

“Having to go through that heartbreak and then log on to the subreddit and clean it up for hours and hours of just all of these Celtics fans and all of these Raptors fans being all angry and just how exhausting that is mentally for a fan like me,” he said. “There was so much stuff being posted that it was actually impossible to keep up.”

He said he was up into the wee hours of the morning cleaning up all the so-called “low effort” posts that fill up the page after a tough loss. 

“I definitely see the darker side of Reddit,” he joked.

Being a moderator is a relatively thankless job. There are no salaries for the position and if you’re doing a good job, you’re never really noticed because the feed will be full of interesting discussion topics and information relevant to Raptors fandom.

Typically, he said he spends a few hours a day on the page, making sure everything looks good and there’s none of that nonsense that just gets people riled up. 

“I would say that the majority of the hot takes that we remove come from them just being posts with no substance to it,” he said. “We try to keep the discussion mature and we try to channel different kinds of discussion into different places so that people looking for high-quality discussion can find it, people looking to just scroll through hot takes can go to the game threads or something like that.”

To Danyluk, Reddit is sort of the successor of the old school message boards that once ruled sports fandom in the early days of the internet. They were pages where hardcore fans would dissect salary cap machinations and trade ideas at a high level. Today, Reddit has turned those once niché message boards into a more accessible website for fandom. It’s a place where Raptors fans of all sorts can go and engage with others.

“I think people are passionate, people love the Raptors and passionate people want to vocalize and want an outlet to express that and they want to talk to other Raptors fans as well and have what they’re saying be reciprocated,” he said. “It’s a really fun community once you get into it. We’re all super passionate about the Raptors, we’re all really into this, so just having an outlet to talk and have that same level of passion be bounced back at you, that’s something, I don’t think there are many places on the internet where you can get that kind of experience.”

As for if there’s a worst take he’s seen after a rough game, Danyluk said he couldn’t name one specifically.

“I’m sure you’ve heard them all,” he said. “Trade every single player, blow the team up, forget the fact that we were champions last year, everything has to go. I’ve seen it all.”