How should athletes respond to social media criticism?

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Social media is viewed as one of the most powerful forms of communication, and its rise in popularity has affected the sports world as much as any other. Prior to the social media age, interactions with athletes were usually kept between the athletes themselves and the sports media through interviews or press conferences. Social media has changed all of that and is offering athletes the opportunity to interact directly with fans or anyone else from their verified Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

However, not only can athletes now interact through their verified accounts, but critics, or trolls if you will, can as well. Anyone can send critical posts in an athlete’s direction, saying they’re terrible at their job or just saying personal insults. Many athletes do not respond at all, but there are some who fire back and defend themselves.

Some athletes, such as former UVU basketball player Jordan Poydras, enjoy the interactions.

“I love it when most athletes do it,” Poydras said. “I like the interaction between the athletes and regular people daily on Twitter and Instagram. It makes you realize how athletes are human and joke and laugh like non-athletes.”

Since winning the NBA Finals and being named Finals MVP, Kevin Durant has taken more time to respond to such critics on his social media accounts. Heavily criticized for joining the Golden State Warriors, one Twitter user asked if Durant would have joined the Cleveland Cavaliers if Durant and the Warriors had lost. Durant responded, “We didn’t lose though”. Fast forward to this summer, when Durant posted a video on his YouTube account, and a user posted the comment, “LeBron is better than you it’s just fax”. Durant responded with one word, “Nah”. The question isn’t if Durant has good comebacks or not to his critics or haters, the question is if Durant should be responding at all. Is it even worth it?

Poydras also spoke about Durant’s offseason social media activities.

“In the curious case of Kevin Durant, however, I don’t like how he didn’t start doing it until he got a ring. I think it’s super tacky and further taints his ring,” he said.

Social media and its ability to provide interaction with athletes is not going away, and there are likely multiple opinions on the subject of athletes responding to critics or trolls on social media. Whether you side with athletes defending themselves, or prefer them to just ignore the haters, that’s up to you. One thing is for certain, as Poydras pointed out, athletes are human too.