MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Social media is very influential in today’s sports universe. Everyone from Lebron James to Odell Beckham Jr. to Bryce Harper are active on social media.
While the platform is a great way for athletes and fans to interact and give fans some insight into their favorite athletes’ lives. It helps the athletes build connections when they graduate or get their name out there. In some cases, it helps them build a fan base.
However, it can also be detrimental to the athletes at times.
Even if the player posts something unrelated to the game, people often make derogatory comments.
After losses, frustrated fans came be brutal to the stars of the games.
After West Virginia lost to Oklahoma last season, wide receiver T.J. Simmons took a lot of flack from people on Twitter and instagram panel.
Despite some athletes being sensitive to the criticism, Simmons tried to take it with a grain of salt.
“A lot of people blamed the Oklahoma game on me but I was around friends and family and they just told me ‘that their wasn’t no need. It was a great play,’” he said. “I’ve been blocking people to the fence since high school so everybody told me that they was used to me doing that. They just gave me good encouragement and the people that go on Twitter and Instagram, I try and ignore them.”
The 6-foot-2, 199-pound junior knows his self-worth and that is what counts.
“At the end of the day, it’s about what I think about myself and what my team and my coaches think about me,” Simmons said. “ If they don’t have a problem with it, if they are encouraging me and they are giving me good hopes, then it don’t matter what the people outside (think). They aren’t here working with me in the summertime and not running with me and practicing with me. So it don’t really matter.”
Why do athletes even bother staying on social media after all the backlash? It’s simple; they shouldn’t have to change their lives to make others happy.
“I’ve been a big social media guy since high school whenever Snapchat went big, Simmons explained. “Now that I got a bigger platform, I’m still the same guy than whenever I didn’t have anything but 50 followers.”
With the way social media affects society today, it becomes important for student-athletes to know how to handle themselves on the platform, whether it be handling negativity or posting appropriate things.
As seen way too often, comments 18-year-old athletes make or even professional athletes, come back to haunt them.
Mountaineer coach Neal Brown encourages his players to be active but smart when using social media.
“Nowadays social media is a big deal,” Simmons said. “Coach Brown and his staff are trying to do a good job at giving us a good social media presence because with the football thing, you want people to know who you are. You want to build that presence, build that fan base so that whenever we do go to the NFL, you already got a foundation of people that support you already. It’s more good than bad on social media. The good outweighs that so that’s why I stay on.”
Cover Photo Edit: Shanna Rose, BGS