The interaction above was posted on Daniel Orton’s Facebook page and was Tweeted out by Orton just a bit ago. It is indicative of a small minority of UK fans who are crossing the line when it comes to player interaction, especially in this case, with Orton. Fans understandably take their love of UK basketball seriously…and that is a good thing. But you also have to remember that these are real people who live real lives and are not just names you see on television. In Daniel Orton’s case, he has made a decision to put his name in the Draft and leave campus to go get ready for the Draft. He says he is finishing his UK classes and while we all think that is a little strange from California, if that happens, then it will be good for him and UK. I totally understand why Orton is entering the Draft and wish him well. I hope he ends up doing what Wall, Cousins and Bledsoe are doing, and finishes his classes so as to not crush UK’s APR rating and as of now that is what he says he is doing. I have no reason to dispute that.
However even if Orton decides not to finish school, or UK takes a hit, fans still need to take a step back and lay off the criticism. For a long time we have had message boards and blog comments in which fans could vent and (unfortunately) take anonymous shots at players, coaches, etc. But with the rise of Facebook and Twitter, some fans have become emboldened to believe they should communicate personally with the players and criticize them on their individual pages. That serves exactly ZERO purpose and is not only unbelievably rude, it also (as Orton noted last night when he said a recruit had contacted him about fans saying bad things to him on Facebook) hurts the program. Do you really believe that your random comments will do ANYTHING but piss the player off? Giving support is one thing, but random hateful comments like the one above do nothing except either hurt or infuriate the kid, neither of which is even remotely positive.
Fandom is great and the passion of UK is unmatched. But when it turns into personal criticism of players, especially directly to them via the internet, it crosses the line. It has to stop, not only because it is unbelievably rude and disrespectful, but also because the only result is one that ends up hurting the program you support.