Most of the time, I am not surprised by what I see or read online. Maybe I am jaded now and not affected by the fact that people hurt each other, cheat, lie and steal, every.single.day. The world is a tough place.
What does continue to surprise me is the enormous amount of people who negatively tweet about children, every day. This is one of my biggest pet peeves and it is most rampant in sports.
I praise and commend Curt Schilling for his actions this week to confront the people who attacked his daughter on Twitter. I mean, what the hell? I cannot believe that there are people in this world who think it’s ever a good idea to attack a 17 year old girl on Twitter. I’m disgusted by this mis-use of social media.
It should come as no surprise that I am a huge sports fan…I played college basketball, my son plays high school basketball and I love college sports. I’m a passionate Razorback fan and love the ‘thrill of victory’ and have lived through (a lot of) the ‘agony of defeat.’ It goes without saying, I watch a lot of games in person and on television. Many, many times I am frustrated or upset with a play and may even yell at the television but I will not tweet about a child.
Student-athletes are children and people should never tweet about children that aren’t their own. I am always disappointed to see so many people tweet about these student-athletes and how bad they are or how they screwed up. I always think back to this great story I heard about a soccer coach who invited the parents of his players to show up on a mandatory Sunday to play soccer with their kids. The coach then split the parents up in to two teams and told the kids to stand on the side-lines and yell at their parents just like they yell at them. The coach said it was a revelation for the parents to hear their kids yell at them using the same terms and phrases the parents use in games. The parents didn’t enjoy playing very much that day.
This same story could be applied to social media attacks. What would would it be like for hundreds of people to criticize your work and tweet you to say things like “Hey @johndoe, you sounded stupid in the meeting today, pull your head out” “Nice job, @janedoe, you didn’t get the report done on time, you suck.”
Could we as adults handle this barrage of criticism? I doubt we could. Why do we think student-athletes can handle it? Do these people who negatively tweet realize when you tweet about a student-athlete, whether you use their handle or not, they can find these tweets and read them? Would we want someone tweeting horrible things to our 18-19 year old kids? Is this a great plan for keeping or recruiting student-athletes?
I’m the first person to admit that I lose my mind when my team turns the ball over or misses a field goal but I cannot and would not tweet about that child directly. It’s not nice and after all they are just children. They are not professionals getting paid to play a sport, they are college kids. My son hopes to play college basketball and I can only imagine what I would feel if strangers were to tweet negative comments about him.
Social media has made us cowards, we sit at home on our couches and hide behind our Twitter handles freely saying whatever we want to whomever we want and it’s gross. I seriously doubt the horrible people who tweeted about Mr. Schilling’s daughter would dare say those things to his face.
If this is something you do, please remember that the student-athlete you are bashing online has a mom and dad who probably want to kick your ass. Think twice before taking out your frustrations on social media about a kid who didn’t win the game…it.is.just.a.game.
Furthermore, if you are a die hard fan…don’t ever bash your own players. Use social media to send positive, uplifting messages to the student-athletes…believe me, recruits would much rather see those tweets than the negative ones when thinking about choosing your alma mater.