Professional athletes lead pretty glamorous lives. Players get paid large amounts of money to play a game for a living. By the time their careers are over, quite a few players make more money than we’ll ever see in our lifetimes. There’s a lot to like about the idea of being a professional athlete.
That said, athletes are under a microscope 24/7. Going out in public isn’t usually an option for athletes as they can’t lead an ordinary life. They’re held to ridiculously high standards by some people and their every move is followed and often criticized thanks to social media. Players don’t have to sign up for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other sites but they have every right to do so. Some athletes probably get more mentions in a week than most of us do in a year. Needless to say, those mentions aren’t always positive and that can take their toll on players.
Sammy Watkins had enough this week. The Buffalo Bills are on their bye week and Rex Ryan gave the team the week off. Watkins took advantage of the week off and took his daughter to Disney World. If anything, sports fans should have praised the receiver for being a good father. Instead, quite a few “fans” lashed out at Watkins.
The receiver, currently dealing with an ankle injury, could walk around Disney, but he couldn’t play for the team in Week 7 against the Jaguars? This was apparently blasphemy to some people. If you looked at his comments on Instagram, many people were calling him out for being injured all the time. It wasn’t tame either. Profanity laced messages were aimed at the Bills receiver. After seeing more than his fair share of idiotic comments, Watkins finally responded.
The way Watkins responded was wrong and the receiver admitted so the next day, but he had every reason to be fed up with people bashing him on social media. Unfortunately, some people aren’t accepting his apology and took his post as an insult. Unless they’re someone who bashes athletes for injuries, they have no reason to hold any ill-will towards Watkins. His message wasn’t aimed directly at Bills fans. It was to those people on the internet who feel like they can say whatever they want to athletes.
People have no right to talk to Watkins or any person with such disrespect. Unfortunately, this is common on social media. With a computer screen between them and the athlete, certain people gain quite a bit of courage. I’d be willing to bet that 95 percent of harassing tweets at athletes would never be said if it were a face-to-face situation.
Watkins is 22 years old. He’s still a kid and he’ll learn from this experience. That said, it’s not just Watkins who needs to learn. No, the “fans” who feel they have the right to say whatever they wish to athletes also need to learn to grow up.
Buffalo’s No. 1 wide receiver isn’t the only Bills player who deals with idiotic messages. Go look at EJ Manuel’s mentions in the last two weeks. The quarterback has struggled on the field in place of Tyrod Taylor and some “fans” have made it a point to send messages directly to the quarterback. Doing so is completely unnecessary. You can vent publicly but do it in a respectful manner and never tag the player directly. Manuel is aware of his struggles and sending hateful messages to him accomplishes nothing. There are many other Bills who get messages sent to them daily that are far from positive and it’s embarrassing. That said, let me stress that this happens to players from every NFL team, NBA team, MLB team, college teams, etc. Stupidity apparently has no limits.
Even after publicly apologizing, Watkins is still receiving his fair share of flak by fans online. It’s unfortunate that people took his message so personally when he was only calling out a select group of people. Unless you’re a person who sends athletes hate-filled messages, he wasn’t talking about you. If you’re still holding a grudge against Watkins over his post, let it go.
Many people believe that athletes have it easy and in some regards they absolutely do. However, the job isn’t as glamorous as many people believe. If we could walk a mile in an athlete’s shoes, it’d be an eye opening experience for us all.
Watkins didn’t handle responding to certain “fans” perfectly, but his comments weren’t directed at any true Bills fans.