June 17, 2012
There is an old adage that states it is "better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." I am sure that most of you have no doubt heard the quote in some shape or fashion, and could easily pinpoint one or two people to whom it accurately applied.
We live in a society that hangs its hat on the principle of free speech, the right to say what you like, when you like, and about whom you like. I am an ardent defender of this very ethos, but it's important to recognize that what we say, has ramifications and reach much further than just the four walls that surround us. We're all aware that freedom of speech does not include the right to incite panic, cause hysteria, etc — yet it happens — and those who do such things can be persecuted for it.
The point of this short blog is not to give a refresher course on civics, but rather to rehash what has been hashed by a million hashers before: what you say impacts others. Period.
As the great Ben Parker once said, (What? He's a fictional character in a comic book and not even a recurring character but rather died in the origin story of a superhero?) with "great power comes great responsibility." It is that thought that drives me to this session of Birminology today.
You may not think that bloggers, recruits, team writers, etc who spout their endless opinions on twitter, message boards, blogs, and more have any impact outside of their own ego. You however, would be wrong.
Each person represents someone else. If you're a blogger and you solicit comments and provide commentary on recruiting, games, players, etc - whether you're part of a network or just an independent fella with some spare time on his hands - you are part of the team that you write about. People without knowledge of the intricate inner-workings and competition between blogs and websites don't see Blog A and Blog B as "different". Blog A and Blog B are all part of Team C's blogosphere, and therefore are viewed jointly.
If Blog A decides to belittle a recruit, or his parents, then to those who read it as a fan of any other fan base will be remarkably quick to point out to said recruit how "Team C thinks you (or your parent or handler) are a piece of garbage and they don't need you." While a right-thinking adult might be able to consider such things juvenile and dismiss the insult as the irrational views of one fan, to a 16 or 17 year old kid who is being told every day how amazing he is and how talented he is, that sort of message becomes hard to swallow and does impact the way they, or their families, see Team C.
You don't need to tweet recruits, talk about recruits, mention recruits or their families. No matter how many followers you have, no matter how many people who read your blog or care about your opinion; if you're undermining the efforts of the coaching staffs who are recruiting players and their families, then you're out of line.
I am all for contentious discussion about recruiting strategy, what players are needed to complete a class, game-plans, etc — but when you're a grown man (or woman) taking shots at a 17 year old and his family about the biggest decision of THEIR lives, you cross a line. No matter how passionate you are about Team C, and I understand that as "fans" we can sometimes have our opinions blurred by fanaticism, you are acting in a manner detrimental to the cause you claim
If you claim to represent Team C — do it with class and respect for the players, coaches and support staff - or don't do it at all.