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When are people going to learn that just because someone is in the public eye it doesn't make them free game?
We have become a society that not only has to let everyone know what we are thinking, eating, and doing at all times, but we must also voice all our anger towards others because we disagree with something they did or said.
And in the sporting arena, this problem is reaching crazy levels.
Some of the vile opinions that are put on social media because 'joe blow' dropped the ball, or 'old mate' went left when he should have gone right are just astonishing. All the brave keyboard warriors hiding behind the safety of their screens, tearing players apart because they had a bad game.
They know they had a bad game. They were there. They don't need someone that has never completed a push up to dig the boot in.
Over the weekend, we unfortunately saw the worst come out of some of our supporters. On Saturday night, Tyrell Sloan put in a poor performance for the St George Illawarra Dragons against the Gold Coast Titans. He had been out of the side for a while, finally got a chance to prove himself again, and unfortunately for Sloan and the scoreboard it didn't go to plan.
Dragons' fans were unhappy. But not just 'dammit, we lost' unhappy. They were so angry and hurled so much hatred towards Sloan over the internet that it reached the point he had to deactivate his own social media accounts.
Can you believe that? A young, impressionable 19-year-old received that much abuse from adults probably twice his age because he didn't play well, and he had to remove his online presence?
Thankfully some Red V fans realised how bad that was.
The online abuse of Tyrell Sloan last night on social media is completely not on. Criticism of a players form or play is fine, but some of the personal attacks that Tyrell has had to endure on Instagram, where he deactivated his account to make it cease is disgraceful. #redv- Red V Podcast (@RedVPodcast1) May 15, 2022
Then on Sunday night, while Wests Tigers' Jackson Hastings was lining up for a conversion, an opposing fan from the crowd allegedly made sexual references and even death threats towards Hastings' two sisters.
Yes, you read that right. Sexual references and death threats. Not only do we have fans that rip players to shreds, but we also have complete morons who escalate things even further to involve the player's family and speak about them in derogatory or absolutely petrifying ways.
The Tigers' halfback reported it to match officials, and thankfully the fan was removed from the ground and will hopefully never be allowed back.
Who honestly thinks that is an appropriate way to act?
For all the good that comes from the internet and the wonderful connections we make on social media, it's a shame that some see it as their own personal platform to tear players apart. Or think that they can yell obscenities from the grandstand without a care in the world.
Some of the younger players may be a bit more fragile or vulnerable and take a lot longer to bounce back from negative comments. Even some of the more experienced guys, who usually ignore what is said about them, may hear one too many insulting remarks, and it all becomes too much to handle.
Then there are the helpless family members that have no experience with handling the public, having to deal with being dragged into the spotlight and ridiculed for something they have absolutely nothing to do with.
How did we get to this point?
Of course, we get frustrated when pour team loses. We are so passionate and so invested that when we lose it hurts. That is part of being a supporter - you ride the highs and the lows. And I fully understand the banter that we all participate in on social media and at the ground. But why do some feel the need to direct so much hatred towards someone just because they didn't perform at their best? Or involve a loved one that has absolutely nothing to do with what happened on the field?
These guys may be professional athletes, but sometimes society forgets that when they aren't wearing their team's colours, they are normal people. Ordinary people like you and I who have feelings.
They also have parents, children, partners, and friends that listen to and read everything that gets said about their loved one. And have to pick them up when the weight of everything we say about them is all too much. Or even wear the burden themselves.
It doesn't matter if a certain player caused your team to lose, or stuffed up your tipping, or effected your Supercoach ranking - abuse is not going to change it.
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