Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Athletes in the age of the Internet.

If you want to lose faith in the certainty of human evolution, go read the comments under virtually any Youtube video, newspaper column, or ESPN article. Frankly, it restores my belief in a higher power. It would take the intervention of a heavenly power to keep our idiot species alive. On aggregate, humanity is all too eager to publicly demonstrate its own ignorance, and the anonymity of the internet has only provided a wider reaching forum of terrifying disambiguation. Whether you're looking at old men stalking high school recruits before they even set foot on campus, opining on Tiger Woods' moral virtue, or filming their own youtube editorials on the officiating in college football, social media is enough to convince this old codger that the time for democracy has long since passed.

Enter poor, misguided Pierre Henderson-Niles. Let's start off by stating the obvious and work from that given: There is zero reason for a D1, revenue sport, major college athlete to have a Twitter, Facebook, or whatever else that isn't administered by their athletic department. But for sane veterans (and we're looking askance at you Ma-Bu-Li), the same rule really applies to professional athletes as well. Your respective organizations have the resources to manage your electronic image and 'by-line.' Let them.

What's the harm in cutting your electronic shit loose? Please observe. This excerpt comes from a column in the Commercial Appeal noting the electronic papertrail left by Henderson-Niles, who left the Memphis Tigers basketball team midseason:
  • May 30, 2009: Da way I’m feeling rite now ,I jus wana say (expletive) everything women ,fam ,ball ,just leave it all … dis (expletive) aint cool..
    June 18, 2009: Jus had to kic dis (expletive) out my crib… Get da (expletive) out (expletive). Finna go to da gym..
    Aug. 28, 2009: already dis liking sum ppl n da uofm family..
    Aug. 31, 2009: Doin 1 of my favorite hobbies …getting inked up.. Then off to da gym 4 da 3rd time today.. Eat ,sleep ,and (expletive) basketball..I love dis game
    Sept. 2, 2009: Is in class it gne b a great day .. 2nd day of workouts with the coaches … we have some cool coaches real talk .. slice happy they came
    Sept. 4, 2009: In class tryin to pay attention but dis (expletive) jus aint 4 me
    Dec. 1, 2009: Y r these ppl so worry bout tigers woods . When he aint hurt no 1 nore kill no 1. Hate da media always blow things up bigger than it is
    Dec. 27, 2009: Sitting on da bus talkin to 2 of my teammates about woman.. I have a ? Why do woman put men on child support wen the dude take care of his baby? Dnt understand
    Dec. 29, 2009: (expletive) da Vols.
    Jan. 27, 2010: Tricc (expletive) refs I’m glad dis game ova.. bac to da m town.. it feels so gud to b a tiger. I’ll ride for any (expletive) n my clicc. I’ll go ham.
    Feb. 2, 2010: Its a lot of fake (expletive) tigers fan out there. Boi I tell u.. but I love da tru tiger fans..
    Feb. 4, 2010: Da mo hawk is bac
    Feb. 5, 2010: In math class paying attention n still dnt understand dis stuff.. who invented dis (expletive)
As Scott Cacciola points out in the article, the thesis here isn't, "damn he's an idiot." Look, all college dudes are idiots; some manage this reality better than others, but they (read: we) all are capable of mindnumbing stupidity. If anyone had access to my inner monologue, I'd be imprisoned or killed on principle. If anything, the lesson here is to destroy the internet.

Ask Michael Phelps. Some asshole shows up to a party in South Carolina - quickly becoming the land of ruined public reputation - and his all fancy aquatic achievements are reduced to a swimming-in-bongwater punchline. But seriously, this is another reason to fire the Memphis AD: on top of letting their best basketball and football coaches in program history leave within a year, he has zero control over his student athletes. It's simple. If you aren't on top of how your organization is broadcast to the public, it'll get out of hand quickly.

As for his plans now that Memphis basketball is a thing of the past, Henderson-Niles notes in the article that he begins work at Wendy's on Monday.

At the risk of overextending causality in his case, you can rest assured that we're all a few embarassing tweets/facebook pics/etc away from the very same. There's far too much at stake to "be yourself" in a visible forum.


  1. Well done, I've often told Icehouse that I want to go off the grid at some point. And by off the grid I mean facebook, twitter, gmail etc....But not GRH, my rants keep me sane.

    On another note, I love how some coaches have these social media outlets, it's almost the exact opposite as the players, but I like it for two reasons. 1. it shows you how robotic they are. 2. The background of their pages change like nothing happened which reveals their business like stance on the sport. See Kiffin, Lane.

  2. *cough*


  3. I was just thinking. There are individuals like Cooley, Mabgold, and Ochocinco who are using social media to connect with their fans in a positive way.