As they often do when sports are involved, tempers have flared recently.
NFL fans and players were in an uproar this past week when replacement officials in the Green Bay-Seattle game appeared to mess up the call on the game’s final play – a Hail Mary pass that Seahawks’ receiver Golden Tate caught, at least in the refs’ mind, to defeat the Packers 14-12. It looked like the officials missed a pass interference penalty on Tate, didn’t see Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings actually come down with the ball and then missed that again during the replay.
The anger included tweets from players, which were compiled by awfulannouncing.com, such as former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman saying “These games are a joke,” the New Orleans Saints’ Chris Chamberlain saying “Players and coaches work to hard and have too much on the line to have games robbed from you by obvious blown calls! I feel sick for GB,” the Carolina Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams saying “Well we knew this was bound to happen but on Monday night football? Come on the replacement zebras aren’t fit for this zoo! Lol,” former Cincinnati Bengal Anthony Muñoz saying “Absolutely pathetic! The #packers were robbed,” and the Atlanta Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez saying “I’ve been saying give the refs a break but that TD call was ridicules. How do you miss that? Pop Warner refs would have gotten that right.”
There were many more tweets highlighted, including many profanity-filled ones. And I’m sure you’ve probably heard much more, as have I, about people’s thoughts on the replacement refs and their blown call. If one good thing came from it, it’s that the real officials are back.
But the replacement refs aren’t the only ones causing a backlash.
Golden Tate has received hateful messages from fans for his role in the play. As the Seattle Times quoted him saying, “’If I mentioned those words, it would be bleeps, bleeps, bleeps. Some nasty stuff. It’s mean. I’ve been called a cheater. I don’t have any dignity. I’m not a Christian. A lot of hurtful things. I just pray on it and continue to live my life.’”
And Tate isn’t the only receiver having negative thoughts thrown his way.
After Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith caught two touchdown passes in a comeback win against the New England Patriots less than a day after his brother was killed in a motorcycle crash, Patriot fan Katie Moody sent him a tweet reading “Hey, Smith, how about you call your bro and tell him all about your wi—- ohhhh. Wait. #TooSoon?”
The tweet created an uproar, and as the Baltimore Sun reported, Moody has since apologized.
These are just a few recent examples of some of the hate that’s been around. A lot of it centers around social media because things such as Facebook and Twitter provide players a direct outlet to voice their opinions and fans a direct line to the players. While it can be great at times, it also can bring some very negative thoughts and feelings.
I’m fine with people getting angry. I didn’t have any issues with any of the tweets the players sent in reaction to Monday’s game as they were venting about what seemed to be a clear mistake, one that cost Green Bay the game (don’t forget the Packers’ offensive line didn’t do much to help either).
Where anger becomes an issue is when people start threatening or harassing.
No matter how passionate you are, there is no reason to wish harm on another person, especially for something such as a sporting event.
But, people do let hate fill them, and sometimes they even act on it. There are way too many stories of athletes, coaches and fans getting death threats or even being attacked.
On my computer I have a page from sportspickle.com bookmarked. Sports Pickle is a satirical site, but earlier this year it had a great post that was completely true. It’s a flowchart that reads: “Should you wish death upon an athlete via Twitter or Facebook?” You follow an arrow down, and it then says, “No. Never.” You follow another arrow down that gets you to “Do you still have bloodlust over the outcome of a sporting event?” That leads to another arrow, which takes you to “Yes!,” which is followed by the chart’s final words, “Consider punching yourself in the face or maybe walk in front of a bus.”
I don’t want anyone to walk in front of a bus, but if you want to wish death upon an athlete for the outcome of a game, you need to rethink your priorities.
Everyone just needs to calm down, especially online. It’s easy to post a message without really thinking about it, but it can have real consequences. A British teen was arrested after he sent a threatening tweet to British Olympic diver Tom Daley after Daley’s fourth place finish in the Olympics.
Everyone has done and said things they regret. We all need to do a better job of respecting each other and not letting hate cloud our judgment.
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor for the Daily Advocate. He can be reached at email@example.com.