Imagine having a bad day in front of more than 20,000 people and then hearing their opinion about it.
This is just the situation Matt Carlino found himself in as he came home from games to find his phone blowing up with negative messages in the form of tweets from fans and spectators.
“I think there is just a lot of negativity on Twitter in general, and even though I tried to not look at it in the first place, people were direct messaging at me, and that was hard to ignore.
— Cody Meredith (@Meredith_Cody) February 2, 2014
This is not the first time an athlete in the spotlight has been harassed or bullied over social media. During the most recent college football season, University of Alabama kicker Cade Foster was harassed and issued death threats over Twitter after missing three field goals in the conference championship game against Auburn.
It got to the point that Foster tried to change his Twitter name and black out his photo to stay hidden from the raging fans but was unsuccessful, as they kept finding him and harassing him. Carlino, after going through a similar experience, went through more drastic measures than changing his name or photo and deleted his account altogether.
“You kind of have to brush it off because people will say bad stuff about you all the time when you play sports, but you still don’t want it in your life,” Carlino said. “So I just decided that I was better off not having it.”
Carlino is not the only one on the BYU basketball team who had a bad night in front of thousands. In the Jan. 18 game against Santa Clara at the Marriott Center, Tyler Haws sat on the bench after fouling twice in the first minute of the game. Fans online took to social media, letting loose their harsh opinions about Haws.
“I try not to listen to what people are saying because it can be good and it can be bad, so I try and stay closed in and to stay away from a lot of it,” Haws said. “I like what my coaches tell me and what my teammates tell me, so they are the main people I listen to when it comes to basketball.”
Head coach Dave Rose also recognized what was happening and reinforced that “the wrong way to deal with it is to fight back”; instead he encourages his players to be confident in themselves as competitors, despite what is being said about them on the Internet.
“I hope it doesn’t happen again,” Rose said. “What we have been through so much as a group, and right now this team has a really good attitude, and even through these really tough challenges we have responded really well.”
Carlino recently joked about the whole ordeal, a reaction he said keeps his attitude positive through it.
“It made me cry a couple of times,” Carlino joked. “No, I’m just kidding about that. I’m really kidding.”
Social media is not always negative for players and has also been used as a positive way for fans to get connected with their favorite BYU basketball players and interact with them on a more personal level.
Positive fan messages come just as frequently as the negative ones for the players. Before Carlino went off Twitter for good, he found encouraging messages of support and kindness from fans all over the country in reply to the negative ones. The case is the same with Haws, who said he receives many positive messages from fans online.
The opponents left for the end of the season will be a hard task for the Cougars to tackle, but with support from each other and Coach Rose, no tweet, text message or Facebook status can keep this team from focusing on its main goal of winning games.