Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cyber bullying...Sports Edition

It's a new year.  I promise I will post a blog within the next week about my new position and location, because I am very excited about that, but today I must speak about something that has been gnawing at me for quite a while and I am wondering if I am the only one who is seeing this?

We, as adults, have been doing everything we can to teach children and teens that bullying in any form is wrong.  Bullying is one of the biggest problems that young people are facing today and it comes in so many forms it is mind boggling.  But, I am amazed at how many people I see on a regular basis participating in cyber bullying on Facebook.  It happens every time there is a sporting event.  And it can get NASTY!

If your team is losing, then you see people posting about how terrible this player or that player is.  Or maybe some derogatory comment will be made about the coach or coaching staff.  If your team is winning, then the chatter changes from how bad your team is, to how bad the other team is, or worse yet (and I can't even believe this is happening, but I see it all the time) people fuss about how terrible it is that their team isn't winning by MORE! is enough to make me want to scream sometimes...and not because I care at all about sports.  I don't.  Trust me.  I have nothing invested in any team anywhere except for the teams out of my alma mater and that is simply for nostalgia reasons or pride in my college.  So, please understand that I am saying this for no other reason than the fact that there are eyes watching all that we do and this seems to be getting out of hand. 

First, every player on every sports team is indeed a person.  They have family, friends, and wait for it...FEELINGS!  They may get paid extremely well for what they do (or maybe not if it is a college player which means they are hearing all these terrible comments AND trying to deal with all the regular college life pressures), and if they are a professional, playing this sport, granted is their job and they knew that people would be watching them do their job.  But let us look at them from a different perspective.  Would you like it if everyone in the country had the opportunity to watch you do your job (whatever that was) and then post their thoughts about how well you are doing it, or not doing it for all their friends to see?  Would you allow your child to do such a thing to someone they knew?  Especially if they were going to post that person's name as well?  Would you enjoy having your Aunt/Uncle/Cousin/Son/Daughter/Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister see your name be maligned all over the internet?  No?  Well, that is what is happening to these sports figures.  Why is it ok to do it to them?

I can hear you now, "Toni, none of those players are ever going to see what I post and besides they're making a bazillion dollars a year!  They should be better at the game!"  Ok, so by that logic, then I can post whatever I want about anyone I want in a public forum...but so long as the person I am posting about never sees it and they make a lot of money, then it is ok.  And even if they did see it, they don't know me, so that's ok too.  REALLY????   Is that what we want to teach our children?  It's ok to post something very hurtful online about someone (and even use their name) so long as they make a lot of money, they won't see it, and you don't know them.  WHAT???  I don't think so!

And lets talk about the horrible talk that comes up about the referees.  All those refs have hugely difficult jobs.  They are doing the best they can.  Some will absolutely make bad calls, but I'd dare say they don't do it on purpose and it doesn't help matters if you become irate over the calls they make.  My Dad was a ref for several years back when I was in High School, and you would not believe the stories he would come home with from those games.  People sometimes get downright violent if a call doesn't go their way.  I would often pray that nothing would happen to Dad.  He never tried to make bad calls, but on occasion I'm sure he would probably miss something (after all, even though he's awesome...he is human).  And people do not like when the ref misses a call.  And he was reffing for Jr. High games.  It's so much worse when you get into college or pro ball games.  Give the refs a break!!!

Here is all I am saying:  CUT OUT THE CYBER BULLYING!!!!  Can you really tell your child or any other child that they shouldn't say hurtful things about others if all they have to do is look at your Facebook or Twitter feed and see stuff like,  "Oh my goodness!  George Footballplayer dropped the ball AGAIN!  Wish they'd get rid of him." Or  "Wow, Henry Sportscoach sure is doing a terrible job!  Wish they'd fire him."   If you want to say something about your team, say something encouraging.  "Come on XYZ TEAM!!!  The game's not over yet!"  or "Pass the ball to Henry Footballplayer!  He's having a great game!"

We as Christ followers are supposed to show Christ to the world around us and the online world is not exempt from that.  Before you post something online, ask yourself, "Is this detrimental to my Christian witness," and then ask yourself, "Would I allow my child/grandchild say this about someone they know?"  If your answer is "No" then don't post it. 

End of rant...back to your sporting events.

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