It has become an ugly reality for college and professional athletes in the new, wired world of sports.
With every move, whether it be a commitment, a transfer, or an in-game blunder, there is inevitably a contingent of critics on the Twitterverse who will chime in with language that is certainly not fit for print.
The latest situation came as former Connecticut forward Alex Oriakhi, granted a release to transfer from UConn to play right away at the school of his choice, announced that he would be headed to Missouri.
As Michael Rogner shows on Run The Floor (beware of the unfortunate language some Twitter users employed, if you follow the link), it got ugly.
In some of the more tame language, users gave their opinions that Oriakhi had “zero skills,” calling him a “scum bag,” and “traitor.”
I’m not here to lament the degeneration of the 21st century fan. I’m not going to create some sort of outrage. Is it unfortunate? Of course. Is it worth manufacturing a controversy? No.
This is no different than the loudest heckler at a game, the one who won’t sit down, despite repeated warnings from arena security.
That fan has now adapted with technology.
I’ll be the first to defend the right of one to speak an opinion, whether that opinion is a popular one or not. That is the purpose of the “public square.”
Because these Twitter critics come out with every athlete’s decision and are such a small minority of Twitter users, the rest can push them to the fringe, roll their eyes, and say, “here they come again.”
So next time a major college athlete announces his transfer and is showered with tweets of displeasure, to put it nicely, start taking some screenshots, cement that speech in history, and combat it the old-fashioned way:
Pull back the veil of anonymity and allow those critics to make their case in the public square.