Show of hands: how many of you are on Twitter?
Whoa, that's a lot of people! Okay, next question: how many of you post or respond to college athletes or recruits as they comment on their activity?
Hmmm, still a pretty good number. Last question: how many of you have ever written something rude, nasty, or vicious about those athletes?
Really? No one? Well, maybe I'm just talking to a more educated, intelligent, and considerate crowd here at On the Banks. But apparently, we may be in the minority. Twitter - life at 140 characters at a time - has become a resource as well as a weapon in being a fan. We learn what teams and players are doing and we also have the opportunity to go back at those players and give them a piece of our mind when they disappoint.
This began for me when I came across a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on how Twitter is affecting, or at least could affect, young athletes. But more so, I was motivated by a person (and I use that term loosely) who goes by the Twitter account name Faux Kyle Flood. Bob's Caveat: please do not go there and give this account any more credence.
This is the tweet that got me going:
@Anthony_Russo15 You're off by about 13,000 and thats assuming that we sell out a game.— Faux Kyle Flood (@faux_flood) May 31, 2015
Here's a kid - a high school junior, trying to be excited and supportive of his college choice - and this individual decides it would be great sport to ridicule him. Yeah, I know he's taking a shot at Rutgers, but Russo is looking to play here, so he's going after the young man, too. But, his real love is attacking Rutgers. I will not show any other of his tweets because....well, I won't give him any more publicity.
Now, there are other similar accounts: Faux Bo Pelini, Faux Tim Beckman, and Fake Urban Meyer, for example. They probably do similar stuff. But I have a problem when players get attacked, at least college players. Want to attack LeBron? He's making several gazillion dollars, so I think he can afford to ignore you.
So, let's go back to the athletes I am concerned with.
Twitter has become the default attack site for upset and irate fans. And for idiots, too. Look at the tweets directed at Wisconsin'safter his cold-shooting night against Duke last April.
"@Dekker — YOU BLEW IT"
"@Dekker — Use your d-league money to pay my bookie."
"@Dekker — Go work at McDonald's."
And that's pretty mild compared to what Alabama's Cade Foster got in 2013 after missing three field goals against Auburn.
"You're the worst kicker in Alabama history."
"Don't come back to campus."
"I'm gonna kill you and your family."
Don't you love Twitter? Sadly, to many, it is just a game, a way to let off steam. One of the comments directed at Dekker was from a college student who said, "I just like poking fun at Badger players/fans."
Yeah, it's all fun and games ‘til someone gets hurt. These are still kids. We saw how irresponsible and foolish a 19-year old can be when he goes home and hooks up with his "friends" in Florida. It really isn't so different with these young players on Twitter. They're trying to be normal kids - which in some ways they aren't - but the fans can be stupid and vicious. As fans, we get emotional. But as human beings, we need to step back and think.
It makes you wonder if - and hope that - Rutgers athletes are given the training and the support to handle this type of stupidity by fans. Do coaches put restrictions on athletes being on social media, as noted in the Star Tribune article? It's a scary place, that twitterverse.
Then again, living well is the best revenge.