Social media is an incredible thing, a fantastic way to keep in touch with family, friends and loved ones. It is also used by some as a tool to seek attention, or gain recognition, sometimes in questionable ways, but who am I to judge... I have my own YouTube channel.
But in recent years social media has gave us football fans the opportunity to keep an eye on our favourite players every move. From where they like to dine, to what pyjamas they like to wear as they post their night time selfies. For a lot of fans, it can be quite overwhelming how easy it is to communicate with players past and present, and this is where my concerns have raised.
Last season was arguably the worst season in our club’s history. There wasn’t one player I could personally single out and say that they did us proud over the course of that monstrosity of a campaign, but on social media I started to notice a trend on our players Instagram and twitter accounts. Even after some of the most gut-wrenching results, some of our players would upload their post-match selfies to be greeted by overwhelming praise and compliments. This worried me. Granted there are a lot of young Sunderland fans who will idolize any player that pulls on that red and white shirt, but my point still stands. Credit should only be given when credit is due.
The amount of times I had seen Joel Asoro or Josh Maja post a cringeworthy, duck-faced selfie on the back of a humiliating defeat, which was simply ridiculous in itself, to me that just rubs salt in the wounds. But seeing comment’s such as “Legend,” “Amazing performance” or “The future of Sunderland” infuriated me. By no means am I suggesting that we should fill their comment sections with abuse, or hate, after a poor display, but just not to inflate their egos when it really isn’t necessary.
These comments set such a low standard, for our young players especially. ‘Perform how you like and we’ll drown you in praise’ is the message it gives. This is where the ‘overhyping’ of players begins in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that some of our young players have fantastic potential, but if you read some of the comments on Joel Asoro’s Instagram you would think he was the next Cristiano Ronaldo, when in reality he has made twenty-seven appearances in our worst ever team and scored three goals and has now left.
The reason this has really struck a nerve with me is because before social media, we have had many players that have arrived at our club as unknown entities (Kevin Phillips springs to mind), and then they earned their respect and acknowledgment from our fans due to their performances and efforts on the pitch. These days players are walking through our doors, having the red carpet rolled out for them and are then immediately swimming in praise on social media despite of the appalling viewings we’ve all had to witness at the Stadium of Light. This might be due to fans being simply star struck at the ease of how we can communicate with our players nowadays, but all I can do is urge our social media using fans to raise their standards.
We are a proud club who ask for nothing but hard work and passion on the pitch, it’s not too much to ask for considering the privileged position these players are in. So, let’s reward our players when we see hard work, passion and results, not when we see mediocrity.