The ugly side of so­cial media

Isis Town and Country - - Sport - – BEN TURNBULL

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.

PHOTO: BEN TURNBULL

DIS­GRACE-BOOK: Un­re­strained provo­ca­tion on so­cial media is in­flam­ing bad be­hav­iour in sport.

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