Yesterday, I was shocked but not surprised to read an article about how a large number of supposed 49ers Fans had gone on social media after Raheem Mostert's injury in order to be rude, disrespectful and hurtful.
While this behavior is nothing new to our sport, it was the extremity of this latest outburst that caused Mr. Mostert’s spouse Devon to feel compelled to speak out on the subject. She reminded fans:
"It's days like today where I truly contemplate never getting on social media again. As if today wasn't hard enough, to get on here and have DMs about how my husband should kill himself, about how he should be cut, about how he's made of glass. I know I shouldn't care, but wow. Wow wow wow."
I was struck again at how desensitized so many people have become. In an age when we reduce humans not only to cogs in the machine of our favorite sport but also turn them literally into data in the form of Fantasy Leagues, Video Games and Sports Betting, combined with the numbing anonymity of social media, this allows for fans to believe that they can make any comment with no regard for how it might make someone feel.
Granted, it can be fun to tease, cajole and even lampoon the members of one’s sports team. A quick peek at my Twitter Feed will show I do all three of those with abundance and glee. There is a difference between these expressions with their mostly comedic intent and intentionally hurtful posts that can only be designed to try and make them feel badly.
I am most likely preaching to the choir if you are reading this, so if you are not a hyper desensitized asshat in the way you comport yourself on social media then just share this so that we get it in front of those who cannot help but express their asshattedness online.
In the event any of the aforementioned Asshat Trolls might be reading this. Consider this a written reminder about your rights as a sports fan: You are not entitled to ANYTHING by the players of your favorite sport just because you are a fan. It does not matter how many years of your attention or dollars spent on tickets, gear and chachkies, you are not owed something from the team or the players. They may be paid to entertain you but they do not owe you anything.
You are MOST ESPECIALLY not entitled to say mean, rude things to players who are injured in a full contact chaotic sport.
You are MOST ULTRA SUPER ESPECIALLY not allowed to make threats to players.
Mostert has given his all to play this sport for the 49ers. He has entertained us countless times. He has fought back from injuries and flashed past defenders with equal gusto.
You know that he is mentoring the younger players (especially in the running back room) on this team and will continue to do so as he rehabs.
In the meantime, let’s all bear in mind not to take either sports or commenting on social media too seriously. The physical part of football is violent and unrelenting. All the more reason to practice compassion when engaging those who put their very bodies on the line so that you can be entertained.
Somewhere, right now, Mostert the human being needs our support, respect, compassion and love as he works his way back from this injury. So if you see someone being super rude or lame towards him or any player on social media, be sure to speak up and let the person know that it is not right in the same way you would not allow kids to pick on other kids if you saw it happening on a playground.
In conclusion, when it comes to your Fan expressions toward players on your beloved sports teams: Use your Manners. Avoid Entitlement. Express Compassion.