Social networking (aka social media) today is the most powerful way to communicate with people. It is quick, easy and (for some) as simple as pulling out their phone and typing a message. Twitter and Facebook are the two websites at the forefront of the new age of Tweeting and Facebooking people. Everyone from athletes to actors/actresses to the everyday Joe the Plumber can have one. Although helpful for some to keep in contact with old friends and new friends it is also a dangerous place for those in the spotlight.
As the NBA playoffs reign on so does the use of social media. Columnists and broadcasters use the power of Twitter to convey quick 140 character messages to their thousands, and sometimes millions, of followers. The athletes that are watched every game also have Twitter Feeds. Los Angeles Lakers Guard Steve Blake is the latest to be attacked and even threatened on Twitter. The Point Guard took the last shot in the Lakers game last night (May 16) against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Blake missed the shot and the Lakers lost 77-75. The people of the Twitter let him have it. It is reported by ESPNLA.com that the hero of Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets had began the attracting death threats after the loss to the Thunder. Blake and his wife received numerous tweets that were horrific, one sited by the ESPNLA.com article read "I hope your family gets murdered". This is so disappointing. I don't care how much you love your team, you do NOT threaten players or their families. If sports were everything, most of us would be out of a job and have no life to live, thankfully sports is not everything, but it is instead just a form of entertainment to help us forget the daily grind of our lives.
Sadly, this is not the first time a player has been threatened, nor will it be the last if people don't change. Washington Capitals RW Joel Ward was the victim of racial slurs when he scored a game-winning and series-winning goal when he scored in Overtime of a Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. Ward is one of a dwindling number of black players in the NHL. He became an easy target for pissed-off Bruins fans to blame the loss on. He was the reason their beloved Bruins didn't move on. So WHAT?! It is a GAME not your life on the line. Come back next year and try to prove your team "deserved" to win. Get over it!
The last example will hit home for Segal, Boise State Broncos Kicker Kyle Brotzman missed two field goals in 2010 that cost his team a win against Nevada, which would have sent Boise State (likely) to a BCS Bowl game. Several phone calls were received from numerous "fans" of the Broncos to harass the young man who crumbled when he felt the weight of the world was on his shoulders. Luckily for Brotzman other fans came to his aid and created Facebook pages entitled "'Bronco Nation Loves Kyle Brotzman' or 'We Still Love Kyle Brotzman'".
The people of the world need to grow up. Sporting events are around to entertain and amuse the public not to be what drives your life. There are enough issues with murder for no reason, the world doesn't need killings and threats because someone missed a shot like Blake or Brotzman did, or even made a shot like Ward did. It will continue because there are die-hard fans that see sports as their only reason to live. My challenge to anyone that has started a hateful group or Tweeted something rude, next time take a second and think about what you are doing. Do you really want to be known for that? Are you sure you want to send that message? If enough people stopped being disrespectful there would be fewer instances where athletes are threatened in such a manner. Do the right thing, put your phone down and delete the post.