Should College & Pro Sports Teams Talk To Athletes More About The Dangers Of Meeting People On Twitter & Facebook?
I’m worried about the Manti Te’o hoax. Specifically, I’m worried about the fact that Te’o is not the only athlete who was the victim of a hoax thanks to Twitter or Facebook last year. No, no. In fact, I’m sure there are a lot of other athletes out there right now that are going through the same thing he just went through. Some of them know it; others, I fear, are still victims of evil hoaxes perpetrated by evil people out there. And, in the coming weeks, months, and years, I fear that we’re going to see more and more athletes become the victims of hoaxes online. As we all become more connected, it’s going to happen. And, it’s going to be bad.
I’m worried about the Manti Te’o hoax, because, despite all the hoopla surrounding it, nothing bad really came out of it. No one was injured. No one was bilked out of money. And, outside of a whole lot of embarrassment for everyone involved, no one got hurt. But, next time, an athlete might not be so lucky. There are a lot of crazy people out there who enjoy targeting athletes. So, who’s to say that one of those people won’t see what just happened to Te’o, work their magic on another athlete, and end up hurting him or her or someone in their family? It sounds ridiculous to think that that could happen. But, in this day and age, anyone out there can pretend to be whoever the hell they want to be online. And, that’s a pretty scary thing.
With that in mind, should college and pro sports teams start talking to athletes more about the dangers of meeting people on social networking sites? I would argue they should. They’re already talking to them about the dangers of making controversial statements on Twitter and Facebook. Now, they just need to add a chapter to that and start talking about meeting people on sites like Twitter and Facebook, too. If at all possible, they should have their athletes use Twitter and Facebook to connect with fans, not to connect with possible dates. Otherwise, I’m worried that more situations like the Manti Te’o hoax are going to start popping up every other day. And, then what? We survived this scandal. But, we don’t know how many more of these we can take. So, we hope athletes get more informed about meeting people online. It’s the only way to prevent further damage from being done.