Recruiting shows the uglier side of fans on Twitter
Posted May 16, 2013
Think back to when you were making your college decision. Odds are thousands of people weren’t anxiously awaiting the word on which place of higher learning you would be off to. Unless, of course, you were a highly touted athlete with a fan base eagerly awaiting your arrival to deliver yet another national title to their school.
The latter is the case of Andrew Wiggins, the extremely talented basketball player from Huntington, WV.
Wiggins had narrowed his list down to the University of North Carolina, Florida State, Kentucky and Kansas. The small forward, ranked by almost everyone as the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation, chose the Jayhawks.
There were no magic tricks or Skype shows or marching bands. He made the decision at a private ceremony at his school, Huntington Prep, and that should be the end of the story until he hits the floor at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.
But recruiting has become a much more public and much more vicious event than in years past. It is no longer schools and boosters trying to sway a high school player to ‘their’ school, it is everyone with a Twitter or Facebook account, praising the talents of the player and how good he would look in the uniform with their favorite colors. It can be a bit overwhelming to be sure and making a decision that you know is going to disappoint people is hard enough to make without the public scrutiny.
In Wiggins' case, both his mother and father were tremendous athletes at Florida State, so there is letting mom and dad down. North Carolina is the school that spawned Michael Jordan and countless basketball greats. Kentucky, well not many recruits have said no to John Calipari lately. Wiggins had to decline the invite to play at those schools and I’m sure it was tough to tell those coaches 'no'.
This should not be taken that Twitter and Facebook are evil. In fact, both of those sites are useful tools to connect with the world, friends and stay on top of information.
However, when a teenager decides to go to a school not of a follower’s choice, it becomes a vile place that shows a dark side of fans that really should never be exposed.
The hate and venom thrown at Wiggins by the fans of the universities he passed on is stomach turning. I am pretty sure that if I cited specific examples on this website, I’d get fired.
For Wiggins, a day that should be one of the happiest of his life turned sour if he decided to check his twitter feed. His timeline was filled with people wishing terrible things to happen to him. Why? Because he didn’t choose their school? That is crazy.
Doesn’t it seem just a bit creepy that people feel the need to call a teenager names or hope that he suffers a catastrophic injury or worse just because he didn’t come to their state to play basketball?
What does it say about the person typing that kind of message? That behavior takes me back to the great William Shatner skit on 'Saturday Night Live' where he admonished fans at a Trekkie convention to “Get a life!”. And to the people who say it is just a joke, or shouldn’t be taken seriously, why bother to write that? It makes you and, by default, the program you were touting as the place to be look oafish.
Just think back to the most important choice you had to make in your life and how you would feel if complete strangers wished you the worst, and not in the most polite terms. I highly doubt that you would find it amusing, and I am sure your family would be more than upset to have someone tell you that you should suffer harm or that you have made the biggest mistake of your life.
So the next time you are about to hit send on that Tweet, just think if you would want that sent to you. If the answer is 'no', then do the smart thing and hit cancel. Maybe I am aiming too high with that thought, at least based on what I read on Andrew Wiggins' Twitter feed.