Athletic recruiting, obnoxious fans, and anonymously posting on message boards during the recruiting process

Athletic recruiting, obnoxious fans, and anonymously posting on message boardsThere are a lot of good and bad things that have come out of this age of the Internet.  The first thing obviously is that without the Internet, a site like Recruiting-101 would have never been created.  And without this site, you obviously would be completely lost in the athletic recruiting journey (please note the hint of sarcasm there).

But one of the worst faces of the Internet has to do with diehard college basketball and football fans throughout the country.  Almost every school from Division II on up has independent messages boards where they talk about the team, their latest recruit, the coaches, and anything else random that they can come up with.  The problem is that due to the anonymous nature of the Internet, these people are not afraid to hide behind a message board and rip on 16 to 23 year old recruits/athletes at a drop of a hat.  And it was so bad recently that the posting from a message board helped make a basketball recruit change his mind in the recruiting process.

The first story I want to mention is something that was told to me years back.  There was a very talented basketball recruit who had scholarship offers from all over the country.  He was a great shooter with a knack for scoring a lot of points.  His father had played another sport at a college program close to where this athlete grew up so he had been around the campus a great deal.  This school offered him a scholarship early on but continued to press him to make a commitment.

This recruit eventually ended up picking a rival school that actually played in the same conference.  He went from being the #1 recruiting target on their list to the #1 villain overnight.  The best posts when a recruit picks another school is when fans post the usual “we didn’t really want him excuse.”  Those exact things came out and people also were saying that his scholarship was pulled as well.  It may have been pulled but that was because the coaches were trying to save face because they knew he didn’t want to come there.  If he had decided last minute that he wanted to go to that school, I am willing to bet that there would have been an open ride for him.

After making his decision, I had a chance to speak with this recruit off the record about his college decision.  It is something he would obviously have never wanted published and his name included.  Maybe he was being a bit sensitive but one big reason he was turned off by the school close to home was the fans.  While they were great at times, they spent the four year careers of two in-state athletes just ripping on them and their play.  If they are really fans, why would they do this?  These are student athletes who get a scholarship for their time and effort that they put into it.

Random Internet postings recently made some headlines as well as a former basketball commitment to Wisconsin decided to re-open the recruiting process and he definitely was not happy about what he heard from the fans on their message boards as well.  Here is what he said in an older article(click here for the entire article):

Just to see how these so-called Wisconsin fans, what they had to say on those blogs,” he said, “it really made me second-guess: Do people really want me here?  Because I know if I was a fan and I heard about a recruit I’d be more like: ‘What can we do to help him?  And not: ‘Let’s make him feel like the worst person in Madison right now.’

“That is how I felt. I felt like I was in a corner, trapped and I couldn’t get out…  I just felt like it was so unnecessary. I don’t think I’m that worse of a guy. Sometimes I might be tired and have a little attitude…I don’t think I’m a horrible person.  These 40-year-old adults talking about somebody who don’t got their license yet. I just felt it was so unnecessary…

“Picture yourself in my position. Rumors going around, you’re just keeping quiet. And you read the article and 1,000 people throwing you under the bus, trying to find every reason, saying: ‘Good, we don’t want him here.’  It just made me feel bad like I was worthless here.”

Again, some may say that this recruit was being too sensitive.  But think about it for a second.  Has there ever been a time where there was a webpage or message board post that was about you and you didn’t think it?  Times that by one hundred and then you will understand what this recruit is going through.  This recruit, Vander Blue, is a four star recruit who grew up in the back yard of the Badgers.  He still may end up at Wisconsin but with the reaction from those fans, I don’t know if he will.

I doubt readers on this site will be the ones randomly posting negative stuff about athletes or even coaches for that matter.  But if it is something that you wouldn’t say to their face, then don’t waste your time posting it no matter how mad you think you are about this athlete opening up the recruiting process.  In the end, that post could play a factor in his final college decision so why hurt a school that you love?

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