The crack of the bat.
The pop of the glove.
The smell of the grass.
The click of the smart phone?
Ah, Spring Training is here.
If you are wondering which of the above is not like the other, you may have missed the current brouhaha involving Curt Schilling and his daughter, Gabby.
For starters, I have great ambivalence about Curt Schilling. I have always found him to be pompous, arrogant, a poor businessman, and little too far to the right of Rush Limbaugh for my taste. But then there is that small issue of the bloody sock and one of the greatest Willis Reed moments in the history of baseball (top two below). Theo Epstein showed up at his house for Thanksgiving dinner in 2003; Schilling promised Theo he would bring a championship to Boston; and 11 months later he helped Reverse the Curse. And now this.
If you missed this story amongst the A-Rod hype or the LeSean McCoy trade or your own Little League opening days, it goes a little something like this: Curt Schilling has a 17-year old daughter who just got offered a scholarship to play softball at Salve Regina University. As any proud papa might, Curt tweeted out congratulations.
What followed was shocking, but not necessarily unexpected. Internet/Twitter trolls started responding with some of the most vicious, hateful, nasty, and obscene comments you can imagine. (Note: I will not quote or link to any of them here. If you are so inclined, they are available all over the Web.) Okay, you think, that’s what happens on the Internet. Maybe you, but not Schill.
No, Schill went all William Foster on some of these jackasses. He (or some intern at ESPN) dug around and found out who these trolls are, where they work, where they go to school, and most importantly, their actual names. And then he proceeded to blast that info across the Internet.
One of the guys is a part-time ticket seller for Yankees. Or at least he was. He has been fired. A student at Brookdale Community College has been suspended. As of now, Schilling has decided not to go after any of the others, but he is looking into all legal options.
A couple of yahoos clicked 140 characters and probably had a good chuckle. I guess they didn’t see this coming:
But wow, is there a life lesson to be learned here.
For me, the most important line of the movie “Social Network” is when Rooney Mara tells Jesse Eisenberg that the Internet is written in ink.
This is a message I have tried – time and again – to communicate to my teenage niece and nephew, and that which I am increasingly trying to get across to my soon-to-be teenage son.
Every kid I know has an iPhone or an iPod, with texting and Instagram and now Snapchat, and other apps just like them. Soon they will be on Facebook. But they simply don’t have the mental capacity to know – to truly understand – the implications of what they do/post/write. We need to take advantage of these moments.
The Gabby Schilling situation has brought to the fore, writ large, what can happen when people write things on the Internet that they would never write on the blackboard in front of class or say to a person’s face. And now, for at least two people, any Google search of their name will forever make reference to behavior that is/was/and always will be deemed deplorable.
While I am not sure what to do with the specific language in some of the horrendous tweets, I do want to share the entire story with my son so he can see the real-life, long-term consequences of what, I am sure, seemed like momentary cyber fun.
As I have said before, sports often offer up some of the best life lessons. It is just a shame that Gabby Schilling had to go through this ringer so that we might be in a better position to teach our kids.
One last note: Opening Day is but 1 month away.