A sports team is like a family. If an athlete got into a fight on the field, the rest of the team would probably jump in to support him or her, sometimes mediating the fight, sometimes furthering it. Similarly, when athletes get into squabbles on the Internet, their teammates often react the same way.
For today’s teenagers, social media is an integral form of communication—Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are ever-present in the daily lives of many Samo students. Kids will form rivalries and fight in real life, so it’s logical that these rivalries would manifest on the internet.
The big difference between the real world and the cyber world is that people often feel protected and empowered by the lack of face-to-face contact that technology allows. Even Samo athletes have been involved in online disputes.
Recently, the football, basketball and cheer teams had a bit of a dissent on Twitter. According to junior basketball captain Trevis Jackson, the argument started between football and cheer, when a football player stated that cheerleading isn’t a sport. A few of the cheerleaders were offended and immediately defended their sport on the Internet.
“I think the fact that all of this happened, especially over the Internet just shows immaturity,” junior cheer member Chloe Abarbanel said.
Basketball was later dragged into the dispute, siding with the football players, and the three teams continued a chain of insults.
According to Abarbanel, some of the tweets targeting cheer included, “Jealous of a cheer CIF championship never, I wouldn’t even tell anybody if I were on the team.”
Although online conflict occasionally forms between Samo’s own sports teams, students usually use social media to target other schools. Earlier this year, a Facebook event was created for the Samo versus Beverly Hills High School “White Out” football game. A few students from Beverly Hills began commenting on the page and some of the posts escalated into somewhat of an insult battle, with Samo students calling Beverly students “hairy” and “ugly”.
“Being behind a computer screen seems to give a lot of kids a sense of power to speak however they want, so when they’re criticized, and they aren’t strong enough mentally to handle it, they will back lash ignoring any consequences,” Jackson said.
Recently, Samo administration has been taking advantage of its ability to look into social media sites where fights have occured in order to keep students safe. According to Athletic Director Daniel Escalera, when the basketball team was having safety issues during their season, Samo was able to find information about the issues that students had posted online.
“Kids have got to be very careful, of course. I know that when something is posted like that, we can never know when way down the line when applying for a job or something, of the odds that stuff might pop back up,” Escalera said.
The Internet is not meant to be a medium of hatred, and Samo’s ultimate goal is to keep its students respectful to other Samo students and opposing teams.
“We’ve got to have a safe environment. We’ve got to teach competition and we’ve got to teach good sportsmanship at the same time and respect each other. Those are all very important things that go into allowing us to shine on the court and on the field,” Escalera said.