After being nearly 72 hours removed from Saturday’s blowout loss to Texas Tech, linebacker Ben Heeney, like any other Jayhawk, had already put it in the past and was ready to move on. Heeney posted a photo of himself on Instagram celebrating his second interception of the season against Texas Tech with the caption reading “2nd INT of the year. Man I love this game.” It didn’t take long for a fan to comment on the photo and remind of him the 54-16 loss to the Red Raiders.
Heeney, who is no stranger to hearing negative criticism about the Jayhawks, simply deleted the comment. But in the end, he still remembers what was said.
“Obviously they wanted me to see the comment,” Heeney said. “I tried to just brush it off.”
Heeney admits that he reads what people say online and said he is not in the dark about how people talk about him and the team. He said he does not let comments through social media belittle him and uses it as motivation.
Running back James Sims, who is active on Twitter, claims he does not hear a lot from fans on social media. Thanks to Twitter’s privacy settings, Sims decided to make his account protected; meaning only those he selects can see or interact with him.
But not ever athlete handles negativity on social media the same way.
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is avoiding the social media realm by shutting down his account in attempt to dodge the negative comments.
This comes after the Texans allowed the Seattle Seahawks to comeback and win 23-20 in Week 4. The Seahawks scored 20 unanswered points and handed the Texans their second loss of the season.
The loss infuriated Texans fans, who are disappointed with the team this year. Sports Illustrated reported that a Texans fans purchased Schaub’s jersey and burned his jersey in Reliant Stadium’s parking lot. The jersey burning was brought to Schaub’s attention, and deleted his account soon after hearing the news.
Mike Meltser, who covers the Texans for Sports Radio 610 in Houston, said that athletes can overcome these types of issues and that shutting down an account doesn’t have to be the solution when it comes to getting away from negativity.
“I think the best thing to do in these types of situations is to respond to an argument or criticism by offering an olive branch,” Meltser said. “Take it a step, or two, down. I think there is a natural tendency to come to an agreement or understanding. I think it’s an example of how people behind keyboards get a lot more courage than they would in person.”
Schaub’s case is very similar to Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert’s situation this past summer. Albert heard speculation about possibly moving to right tackle after the Chiefs drafted offensive tackle Eric Fisher. This led Albert to eventually deleting his account to prevent conjectures and rumors from fans.
“Now that athletes are on Twitter, fans take that opportunity to troll them,” Meltser said. “The hard thing about Twitter, it’s like you’re in a house and you know someone is whispering about you in the other room.”
Kansas director of football communications Katy Lonergan said that the staff collectively works together to keep an eye on what players tweet.
Twitter was found a year after basketball forward Wayne Simien graduated from the University of Kansas. Simien said that the popularity of Twitter is a sign of times with technology advancing. Like many, he is aware of the actions that take place on Twitter and suggests that fans and athletes can find a more positive way to use it.
“I think it can be used as a great tool for communication, relationships and information,” Simien said. “Hopefully people would be able to use it for the good it provides and not abuse it.”