If you caught Ty’s Take, ESPN SportCenter or pretty much any media outlet that covers college sports over the last few days, you probably can surmise what this column is about.
If you didn’t, here’s the issue in a nutshell: the Iowa State men’s basketball team lost to Kansas at home the other night, effectively snapping the Cyclones’ 22-game home winning streak. While the officiating wasn’t fantastic all game, a series of questionable calls right before the end of regulation turned the tables on Iowa State and, while they didn’t determine the outcome of the game outright, they certainly had an effect on the contest.
What I’m not going to do, however, is whine or mope about the officiating and the outcome; I’m here to address the fallout.
I was raised about 90 miles outside Chicago and have been effectively set up for sports heartbreak since my first trip to Wrigley Field as a 7-year-old. While I don’t live and die by the fate of my Cubs, I know what it’s like to have abnormally high hopes for an underdog team only to have my heart ripped out by, say, Steve Bartman.
It seems only fitting that I ended up a Cyclone. In my four years, I learned that being a fan in Ames isn’t always easy – in fact, it’s rarely easy. While moments like the other night sting, many fans I know are accustomed to this heartbreak, be it at the hands of a Big 12 basketball referee or our own quarterback.
My bitterness after the Kansas game only went as far as (jokingly) threatening to leave Ty in Ames; a few hours later, I was more or less resigned to the fact that losses as such are simply a part of a Cyclone fan’s identity.
There were a few ISU fans who took things too far, however.
While I won’t get into the offensive, racist and threatening details, a pair of men who identified themselves as Iowa State students took their frustration to Twitter. Among the rude and outright inappropriate things they tweeted at Kansas star Elijah Johnson, a handful of death threats emerged.
Not only does this embarass me as an Iowa State alumna, it portrayed my school in a terrible light on the national stage.
Ty asserted in his column yesterday that Cyclone fans, as a whole, are generally pretty chill. This bodes true as long as you encounter said fans in person (and before copius amounts of tailgating beverage has been consumed).
Thus, I guarantee you that these two misguided young men would have never had the nerve to verbally assualt Johnson in person as they did behind the veil of their Twitter accounts.
It’s not just them, either: every single publication I’ve worked for, including here at the Daily News, has worked with an online system that often attracts similar commentary.
Whether they’re completely anonymous behind the front of usernames, or accountable by their full names via Facebook, I’ve found that many people who would ordinarily use the good sense to bite their tongues in person find it much easier to lash out by way of their keyboards.
Sometimes it’s hard to navigate the world of social media – a seemingly endless online landscape with few hard-set and defined rules – but consider this: anything you type, post and make public can be, in some way or another, preserved forever.
I understand the implications of the First Amendment and by no means intend to dissuade any person from expressing his or her opinion on the Internet, I simply urge you to think twice before clicking “post.” If it’s not something you’d have the nerve to say in person, why post it for the world to see?