Social media has given us an incredible opportunity to watch, track, and be more than ever connected with our favorite athletes around the world. Unfortunately, that has also led to more bad than good things. This recent situation regarding the Ohio State Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell is a prime example.
The number #2 ranked Ohio State lost 75-72 after overtime to the underdogs and #15 ranked Oral Roberts in a thriller that didn't sit very well with Buckeyes fans, as they got bounced out of the tournament a lot sooner than expected. The young Liddell had a great game, finishing with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but that didn't protect him from the online abuse he received. E.J. went to social media and shared a few screenshots of fans sending him gruesome messages, with numerous insults and even death threats.
He instantly received a bunch of support, as even the infamous Charles Barkley, who is working as a TBS analyst during March Madness, stepped in to defend him and go on a rant against the internet trolls and social media:
"Number one, he had a great game. But for you to give this kid death threats or throw racial slurs at him, your safe in your own home like a coward behind a computer; nobody knows who you are; you need to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror...I'm never gonna dignify these losers and interact with them ever, I don't care how much money some offers me, I'll never do social media because of this"
Charles Barkley, via Sidelinesources
"Sir Charles" is right on point, as this a situation we have seen way too many times. Social media has given an outlet to many wrong people who abuse the abilities and connections to say things they would never even think of in real life. We understand how emotional sports are, especially during March Madness basketball, and that tensions get a bit high, but it should never surpass personal life boundaries. It is never that serious. Liddell has done the right thing, filling a report of the threats to the university police. Hopefully, justice will be served.