Today isn’t only National Girls and Women in Sports Day and the first-ever Digital Learning Day; it’s also National Signing Day, the day when high school football recruits can make their college decisions official.
ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski describes National Signing Day as a “meat market,” “the Lady Gaga of college football,” and, “absurd, excessive, self-important, and ridiculous beyond belief.”
Given that ESPN will be hosting 10 hours of multiplatform coverage of the event, it’s safe to call National Signing Day a spectacle, and leave it at that.
But it’s also the day when 17- and 18-year-old kids will be finalizing one of the most important decisions of their lives. For the top prospects, who’ve been courted by multiple schools, it’ll be difficult enough deciding which school to choose, without having to think about the fan bases they’ll be disappointing.
That’s why today, it’s important to keep the “meat market” in perspective. A bunch of these students have social media accounts, easily accessed by anyone and everyone. That makes it easier than ever to get in touch with them directly, to share your feelings about their decision.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do so. Especially if you’re not playing by the Golden Rule.
After LeBron James took his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2010, leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, he became one of the most hated figures in sports. In October 2010, a few months after opening a Twitter account, he retweeted some particularly foul tweets directed at him, to have the public “see what type of words that are said toward me and towards us as professional athletes.”
The point is: James and his fellow NBA players are paid, professional athletes. The people we’re watching on National Signing Day are kids, and nothing more.
That’s why it’s critical, no matter how mad you are that your top prospect jilted your school for your rival, to stay away from slamming them personally on social networks. No student’s college decision merits that type of reaction.
Besides, remember what happened when director Spike Lee taunted Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller back in the 1990s. Lee awoke the beast within Miller, sparking one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history.
Do you really want to be the person who gives a prospect extra motivation to pound your school on the football field some day?
Photo: Dorial Green-Beckham, center, celebrates after announcing that he will play college football for Missouri at a press conference in Springfield, Mo. Mr. Green-Beckham, a senior wide receiver at Hillcrest High School, was widely considered one of the top recruits in the nation. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.