Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and Friendster (ha, not Friendster, just kidding), fans can now get closer to their athletes than ever before. Oh, sure, a Twitter profile isn't like a face-to-face interaction, but when you have an entire set of friends on Facebook -- your family, your high school buddies, the people you see at work every day -- and you group them and interact with them in much the same way as you group and interact with your favorite collegiate athletes, the distance feels smaller. Hey, I can message Patrick Patterson! Sweet!
Not sweet. At least not to Patrick Patterson. Patrick would prefer you not message him, or at least curtail the content of those messages. The Kentucky forward sent the following message to Kentucky fans on his Facebook profile Wednesday morning:
“To the entire Big Blue Nation.. Do not talk to me or message me about the performances of myself & my teammates OR question our talent, pride, or love for this University.”
It's not hard to imagine Patterson getting an influx of messages Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. That time frame coincides nicely with Kentucky's loss to South Carolina, in which many accused Patterson of disappearing. It's true: Patterson was only a minor factor in the game, going 2-for-4 for five points (though he did grab eight rebounds). For someone of Patterson's likely lottery talent, that's an unfortunate dearth of production, and for it to come in an upset loss to dethrone the Cats no doubt has Big Blue Nation in a tizzy.
It's also no reason to message him on Facebook, and who knows what those messages were like. Maybe some were supportive. If they provoked this response, though, it's likely there was plenty of message-board level stupidity going on. Other Kentucky fans have already decried this -- A Sea Of Blue called these folks "psychopathic techno-terrorists," which rolls right off the tongue -- and rightfully so, but the lesson here isn't just for UK fans. It's for college hoops and sports fans in general.
That lesson? This is not cool. Don't do this to your players. (Or, for that matter, the opposing team's.) Facebook is not a toy, and it's not a receptacle for would-be letters to the editors or calls to your local sports station. Find somewhere else to deposit your frustration.