The old head basketball players who are saying today’s game is soft might have a point, but they’re just slightly off. The players are simply more sensitive. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing, it is just a thing. It brings fans closer to the game and makes the players more relatable, but it also makes them more sensitive to every criticism. In this new age of social media everybody has their own take on every situation, and they have the means to express that take. People feel they can hide behind the Internet and say whatever they want without consequence. Should fans be able to say what they want, yes. Do they need to stick to the game? Absolutely. Both the players and the fans play a role in this ongoing dance between sports and social media.
Back in the old days, social media did not exist. There was was no Internet. So there was no online social interaction. The only interaction you had with your fans was if you were in the game or out in the street. Most people then, and even now, don’t have the balls to come up to a massive NFL or NBA player or any athlete in the street and call him out. The Internet has changed that. Nowadays, there is this online confidence. People feel safe behind the wall of the Internet, and feel they can say whatever they want and there will be no backlash. Though the Internet has brought us closer across the globe, it also has created an online wall that people willingly stand behind because they won’t be tracked down by the person they are critiquing. This gives them the false idea that they can say whatever they want. Don’t get me wrong I am all for fans sharing their opinions, that is what social media is all about, but when it gets personal with players is where I see a definitive line. For the most part players are good sports with criticism until it gets personal. When I say personal I mean about their personal lives, not necessarily focusing on the game. I do understand that most critiques are technically personal.
On the player’s side, I understand if there are personal comments made, that is a time to protect yourself and your family. What I can’t stand is some of the pettiness about the critiques. It seems like a guy cannot get criticized nowadays without getting upset at the critiquer. Growing up “critiques” were what I called constructive criticism. Take that criticism and use it, sometimes just sometimes, a fresh set of eyes can see what you are doing wrong more than you can when you are entrenched in the situation. There is a time and place for being sensitive and using criticism as motivation, and it seems like nowadays it is always the sensitivity route for many players.
If this story about David Price and Dennis Eckersley is true, which it sounds like it is according to Dan Shaughnessy, this is just a prime example of being overly sensitive. Eckersley simply said “yuck” when looking at the stats of Eduardo Rodriguez in a rehab start (5.1 innings 3 earned runs). Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that doesn’t seem like a horrible start to me, but keep in mind this is Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersely, his standards are understandably higher than mine. David Price then proceeds to yell at Eckersley “get the f*** out of here” multiple times. How is that at all an eye for an eye in that situation? David Price went way too far. If that made you upset, then go talk to the man, don’t yell profanities at him, seems immature. Price later explained that he was simply defending his teammate.
As mentioned before, there is a time and place for defending yourself and your teammates, but there are also more productive ways to give those criticisms and take the criticisms. Fans are the more guilty party in this situation that is for sure, but players aren’t completely off the hook. Everyone plays a part in this new age waltz between social media and sports culture that we will continue to do for decades to come.