Monday, December 24, 2012

Athletes And Postgame Twitter

Bad words get lifebuoy soap in the mouth.
Last night was yet another painful Browns loss. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos marched up and down the field leaving grass stains and cleat marks all over the Browns. As the game circled down the drain of despair,  fans took to social media to express their frustration throughout. When Josh Cribbs fumbled a return near the end of the game, the fan freak out rolled on into a frenzy.

It didn't help matters that CBS thought it would be a great time to cut away to Joe Haden in the last minutes smiling and laughing with teammates as they were getting their hineys handed to them and then to add to our misery - show clips of previous Broncos shellacking of the Browns.

By the end of the game, the fans had waved good bye to their sanity and went into attack mode on twitter.  No one was safe from the rage that has been slowly simmering since 1999.  Fans tweeted their anger with the play calling, officiating and lack of winning to the world and specific players  personal accounts.

And then, everything went to hell in special edition Bernie Kosar Logaberger Basket.  Perennial fan favorite Josh Cribbs received a great deal of hate messages, attacking his game play and wishing death upon him. Yes, you read that right. Cribbs was receiving death threats via twitter.

Before I go any further, I want to make something crystal clear. I am perfectly ok with fans whining and griping about a game. I am also ok with fans moaning and groaning about players. I buy tickets, jerseys, coffee mugs and everything else, so I have a right to comment.  I am, however, *not* ok with fans wishing injury or worse to any athlete or member of their family. 

The negativity got to Josh and he sent out this tweet:

A number of Cleveland athletes, from Josh Cribbs to Chris Perez have gotten into twitter wars with fans, and I have a problem with it. Cribbs and others of course have the right to say what they want and react how they want. I just wish they would think before they tweet.

Instead of reporting and blocking the "haters" or even pulling a page out of LeFoolio's book and reposting the messages to shame the idiots, Cribbs zeroed in on them. It was like Perez and the heckling A's fan he had tossed.  Perez paid attention to the one guy yelling at him and ignored any Indians fans there to support him.

In Cribbs' defense, he later deleted the tweet and admitted it all got to him and tried to move things in a positive direction. I respect him understanding and acknowledging and it makes him human. What I don't understand is why not even an hour after the game the team was on twitter.

These players need to go through some sort of social media training. I know they go through regular media training, how to respond to questions, look in the camera, etc. Why not social media training? Fans are going to angrily critique the game, coaching and players and social media makes it instantaneous. Dealing with it is part of the million dollar contract that the players sign. As a person that has worked in retail and hospitality for years, I can tell you, people are jerks and if you want to keep your job, you need to learn how to respond to them. As a bartender I was called everything but the name my parents gave me and I was also threatened on numerous occasions for cutting people off. My minimum wage butt needed to deal with them appropriately if I wanted to keep working.

The easy solution would be for players to avoid social media, but to be honest, I would hate that. A better answer would be to stay off twitter immediately after a game and to not respond to the hate.

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