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Month: April 2017

Are Sports Stars exempt from Cyberbullying?

Recent stories highlighting news about the famous NASCAR driver, Danica Patrick, being attacked on social media can make it easy to see that even the most recognizable and famous people can be the target of Cyberbullying.

USA Today ran a story about how she was being “trolled” on her Twitter feed by people who spewed a series of “mean tweets” about her and her driving abilities. This spun off a few responses from defensive family members, who came to her name’s rescue, to put these people in their place. Danica, taking the high road, suggested to the family to “let them go.” The example of self-control and restraint that she showed touted extreme class and sense of self-awareness that many people can take note of and learn from.

This also happened with famous MMA fighter Ronda Rousey. After suffering her second loss in a highly televised and much-anticipated fight, she went into a period of silence – my guess is to re-group her thoughts, heal and get her head ready to get back in the game. But there were many people who were quick to hit social media at the end of the fight, stating their “armchair advice” on how they think she SHOULD have fought the match or how they think that because she’s fought and lost two fights in a row that suddenly she was or should be “finished” with her career. People were quick to give up on her because she had a bad night. It’s important to note that none of these things were retaliated against. After her first loss, she contemplated committing suicide. It would be hard to imagine that after suffering this second career loss, that she wasn’t thinking those same thoughts, at least in passing, once again. Thankfully, she is still with us.

Today’s youth may find themselves in situations that they feel they have no control over and think similar feelings. But on January 9, 2017, after letting people state their negativity and spew nastiness, with no response from her reps or Rousey, she finally emerged, when she was ready, with an Instagram message. It was a quote from J.K. Rowling, that simply stated: “And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” This doesn’t exactly sound like someone who is ready to quit. She too, took the high road and let the mean tweets run their course, before letting people know that she has much more to give and is far from finished with her journey.

It can take a strong person to turn the other cheek when you are the target of any form of bullying, Cyber or otherwise. But these strong women in sports did just that, which makes them both even more of a positive role model for today’s youth to follow. Bullying in schools is on the rise and happens in all forms. Children can look to their examples as the best way to deal with it – ignore it. In a society that relies so heavily on the internet and social media, it can be easy for people to slip in personal attacks on others or find themselves wrapped up in negative conversations that make another person the target of unwanted negativity. If today’s youth can see the strength in role models like this, it can help them win their own fights with similar types of bullying. Thankfully, the lives of our youth aren’t on as much display as any famous sports star’s.

So, if there can be any blessings to count, it’s that their own cyberbullying experiences aren’t on display for the entire world to throw in their two cents worth in.

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