The ugly side of social media
SOCIAL media has changed regional sport for the worse.
When long-term fans or former players talk about their “glory days” playing various sports, they sound similar. They hated the other group who wore a different jersey on the field, but off the field they could usually share a beer and respected their opposition.
What happened during games was usually confined to the time actually playing the game, unless a judiciary was involved, which saw it drag out.
That has changed, particularly in the past decade, and sporting bodies do not know how to cope.
Much has been said about Sunday’s Bundaberg Rugby League semi-final day, which will be remembered more for ugly incidents on and off the field rather than the quality games on it.
BRL chairman Mike Ireland blamed social media, which he said worsened the incidents, but it is not an issue confined to rugby league. A short browse on Facebook shows you exactly why.
What happens on the field now goes online.
Players, officials, supporters and other “fans” regularly voice their opinion on Facebook (as the platform allows), but some of the comments go too far.
Whether it is calling for further acts of violence on the field, wishing another player was hit more often during a fight or for violence off the field, social media is home to it all.
When did sporting competitions become more than just a game?
There is a way to express one’s passion for a team, but tipping over garbage bins, expletive-laden name-calling and baiting opposition players and supporters to react violently are not it.
The problem is not localised to rugby league, as player and spectator behaviour has degenerated in other sports.
Every competition carries a code of conduct, which sets a framework all involved in the sport must follow.
How these codes stretch to online conduct is different for each individual sport, but administrators must set and enforce the guidelines.
DISGRACE-BOOK: Unrestrained provocation on social media is inflaming bad behaviour in sport.