Some chickens do Tweet: WHS coaches weigh in on cyberbullyingWORTHINGTON — Often times the cowards are the loudest people. The difference between a coward and a confident person is they use illogical whispers rather than factual speech to push their ideas and they hide in the bushes to watch the fire they’ve set, rather than stand behind it.
WORTHINGTON — Often times the cowards are the loudest people. The difference between a coward and a confident person is they use illogical whispers rather than factual speech to push their ideas and they hide in the bushes to watch the fire they’ve set, rather than stand behind it.
The more a whispered rumor is repeated, the quicker it becomes fact. As soon as it becomes fact, there’s no arguing against it.
The spreading of false ideas with the hope of repetition turning the idea into fact exists in all walks of life.
Currently, Worthington District 518 Administrator John Landgaard has a half a page of hand-written names of high school students and graduates who played some role in a Twitter account, called WHSTrojanGossip, which was made to spread gossip about Worthington High School students and graduates.
For the person or people involved, repercussions have not been established, but Landgaard said formal charges will be pursued and the incident could also lead to civil suits and, if it carries into the school year, the possibility of expulsion from school.
Trash talking is part of sports, but there’s a reason players shake hands after a game. The least of the worries of those involved is their status in athletics, but, the idea that participation in sports or scholarships can be taken away is just another reminder that words put on the Internet are in ink, not pencil.
“The students sign a MSHSL form,” Worthington Athletic Director Mike Traphagen said. “Students are required to sign those forms and follow that student conduct. When you’re involved in athletics, if you violate one of the student codes of conduct, you can possibly be suspended from sports.
“I haven’t heard anything from Mr. Landgaard or (Worthington Principal) Mr. Karelis, so I can’t really comment on the whole thing.”
Each coach has a different way of teaching, whether it’s through tough love or through the use of quiet respect, but their rules are difficult to enforce off the field and court.
“We always just use the rule that if you can’t say it to them in person, why would you say it at all,” WHS girls’ basketball coach Eric Lindner said. “There’s time and places for social media, but the best place to talk is to meet face to face.
“Whenever you talk about media, it’s something that’s hard to monitor. As a parent, you try to do your best with your kids and teach them what is right. Tough part about that computer is supervising it 24 hours a day. The kids just need to be educated about the dangers of it.”
For Lindner, he enforces penalties from administrators.
“Any team violations is determined by the high school league and I just make sure they are handed out,” Lindner said.
Other coaches will hand out punishment of their own to their players.
“Each coach has his own way of doing things, but, for me, any behavior or conduct that is detrimental to the team is an automatic one-game suspension,” Worthington softball coach Sam Baumgartner said. “Fortunately, it’s never really come into play.
“There’s a whole new way of bullying and it’s difficult to find a way to stop it. You’re asking faculty and employees of a school to monitor student athletes in the privacy of their own home.”
Outside the obvious temptations for teenagers, coaches and teachers now must warn them of the troubles of the web.
“What I said to my guys is if you wouldn’t want your gramma or mother to know what you’re saying then don’t put it out there,” WHS baseball coach Stacy Sauerbrei said.
There’s nothing easier than writing when your name isn’t attached to the words. The seconds it takes to type 140 characters can cost years.
“They need to think beyond the moment,” Sauerbrei said. “Part of our responsibility is to teach them that there is something beyond the right now.
“It’s the last thing we want to teach. I want to teach how to hit, field and how to tackle. It’s part of the job. Some of my best coaches were not about just the fundamentals. They were about becoming a quality person.”
WHSTrojanGossip was shut down before midnight Monday, after being created Monday afternoon. Wednesday night trojandrama44 was created on Twitter to follow in WHSTrojanGossip’s footsteps and woocouples was created to judge high school couples. Both were shut down within an hour of being created.
“You always take the good with the bad,” Baumgartner said. “You’re dealing with human beings who are all prone to making mistakes. It doesn’t mean they are bad people, but some times you learn lessons the hard way.
“If you make a mistake once, it’s a mistake, but if you do it again, then it’s a choice. This just comes down to kids making some bad choices and they’re going to learn from it. I don’t suspect it will blossom into anything bigger than it.”
Daily Globe Sports Editor Chris Murphy may be reached at 376-7328.