Ordinarily, I write about professional sports from my own perspective as a writer, fan and viewer all at once. When I write about the games, I write about the games themselves and the offseason moves and what I would do if I were an armchair general manager or coach. Now I shall write about professional sports from a social media perspective.
We live in a golden digital age at this time. Thanks to the Internet and its social media applications (namely Facebook and Twitter), fans are able to get closer than ever to professional athletes and other celebrities.
Several professional athletes – and former athletes – I follow on Twitter include: Matthew Barnaby, John Axford, Dirk Hayhurst, Logan Morrison, Jimmy Rollins, Kevin Weekes, and many others. I enjoy my interactions with these people. I am sincere in my words and I joke around with them. I have teased Barnaby at times and he responds back in a jovial manner.
For example, I once teased Barnaby about his struggle to get his kid in bed at a reasonable time. I simply quipped that he should tell the child that Wayne Gretzky got plenty of sleep and Barnaby himself did not (a cheap little joke at the disparity between Gretzky’s talent level and Barnaby’s talent level). Thankfully, Barnaby took it for what it was: playful teasing. Judging from some of the tweets he has made, he loves being a father.
Axford joked that the media should not refer to him as a redneck, but as a yokel; I then compared him to Cletus the slack-jawed yokel – a character from The Simpsons – and he was amused by the comparison. Axford then posted a link to a Youtube video showing the sing-along song about Cletus the slack-jawed yokel.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to learn about the human side of professional athletes via Twitter.
Thanks to social media, it is possible for fans to have some semblance of camaraderie with the athletes that you normally only see among the players themselves.
Unfortunately, the Internet world of social media is not all fun and games. Sadly, there are too many people who have the audacity to abuse the so-called anonymity of the Internet to bring their unjustifiable hatred to an area outside of the games and the stadiums. I have seen “fans” say horrendous things on Twitter to the likes of Logan Morrison, John Kruk, Jeremy Roenick, Kevin Weekes and countless others.
With so many arrogant pricks on the Internet, it is no mystery why some athletes/celebrities are apprehensive to interact with fans. I am not saying that all athletes and all celebrities are precious angels; however, I strongly believe that many so-called “fans” are bigger jerks than the way they perceive the athletes and celebrities to be!
Regardless of their profession or how much money they make, athletes and celebrities are people, too. First and foremost, they are human beings. As fellow human beings, they are entitled to the same rights as the rest of us: the right to be able to interact with others and establish camaraderie with others without the fear of harassment.
I hope the jerks of the Internet realize the errors of their ways before it is too late. Rather than spending so much time and energy on being hateful over trivial little things, those jerks of the Internet should apply that energy elsewhere to better their own lives. Aside from ruining their own lives with their unjustifiable hatred, the jerks of the Internet risk creating the day when professional athletes and celebrities will stop interacting with fans altogether.
Frankly, I am amazed at what thick skin some athletes and celebrities have on Twitter. After seeing some of the despicable things some people have said to them, I thought they would stop interacting with fans altogether; however, they remain classy and treat people with respect and dignity. Kudos to those athletes and celebrities for handling themselves in the proper manner!
Regardless of who you follow on Twitter or any other social media application, and regardless of what their professions are, you should treat people with the same respect and dignity you feel you are entitled to. First and foremost, people are people. Do not ever forget that.