EDITORIAL: Is online attack cyber-bullying?

Social media use for complaint may have gone too far

Officiating in amateur sports is, like the athletes’ performances on the field of play, a case of hit-or-miss. Individuals have good games and not-so-good games.

Some people feel it’s their right to criticize officials when they stumble, especially during big games when the stakes are high for the teams. Some spectators go out of their way to berate amateur officials for those mistakes, and we’ve seen where that can lead (see Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association banning parents from games).

Langford Coun. Roger Wade may have stepped over the line this week by using social media as a platform to personally attack and name an umpire who made a wrong call during a key moment in a Premier Baseball League playoff game at Royal Athletic Park.

By calling out the umpire by name, telling her explicitly and publicly, “You Suck,” and attaching a video of the play – implicitly encouraging people to comment on it – has Wade engaged in cyber-bullying? Possibly.

The umpire likely feels bad for potentially altering the game, even if she didn’t show it outwardly. Who really knows how she feels inside? But this is not about the call, the result of the game, players’ disappointment or anger or even questioning whether officials are appropriately trained to work elite-level games.

A growing number of people are using social media as a way to make disparaging comments about others. They somehow believe that because they’re “communicating” through wire and glass, they are free from any consequences for their verbal attacks.

We find this indefensible anytime. But it’s particularly discouraging to see an elected official engage in this behaviour as a way to express their opinion. We expect leadership from our elected officials, and the very public world of social media leaves those individuals and their non-political activities open to even more scrutiny.

It’s one thing to put your opinion out there about what someone else has done, it’s another altogether to attack someone personally in a public forum. We hope the fact the comments have been removed indicates a change of heart.