Year in Review: Top sports social media fails of 2018

If 2018 was any indication, the sports world still has much to learn about the mythical online beast that is social media.

Years ago, it was just the kids that were using Facesnap and Twittergram. Now, every athlete and professional sports team seems to be using these platforms to communicate with fans and build their brand.

And those kids that joined social media before it was cool? They’re older now, and many f them seem to be apologizing for the insensitive, racist and/or homophobic things that they had to get off their chests during their teenaged years.

What a year it’s been!

Warning: Some of the posts discussed in the following article contain language that readers may find offensive.

Donte DiVincenzo wins NCAA championship, deletes Twitter account
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

April of this year was quite the roller coaster of emotions for Villanova’s sixth man, Donte DiVincenzo. He went from a relative nobody to a star in only a few hours, dropping a career-high 31 points to lead his Wildcats to a 79-62 victory over Michigan in the championship game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. He was named the title game’s Most Outstanding Player, becoming a household name overnight. That’s when people started digging into his Twitter account.

Although his account had been dormant since June 2016, his statements from his time in high school made headlines. Then, following an awful attempt at a cover-up by the program, the profile was deactivated.

The 21-year-old is doing just fine now, though. He was selected 17th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2018 NBA Draft in June and has appeared in more than 20 games this season.

The President of the United States of America calls an NBA superstar dumb
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Bringing this story back to your attention is a nice little reminder of the insane world that we live in right now. Instead of dealing with the many responsibilities that come with being the leader of the free world, Mr. Donald J. Trump decided to hop on Twitter to share his valuable opinions following Don Lemon’s interview with LeBron James on CNN.

Yes, James said, “I believe our President is trying to divide us.” But, come on! You’d think that Trump would have bigger fish to fry. We’ve seen plenty of this type of behaviour from him throughout the last twelve months, but for him to take aim at arguably the biggest name in sports right now was just absurd.

Thankfully, the NBA community had James’ back on this one.

Let’s move on, though. If much more is written about this, he might start tweeting about me before the year comes to a close.

Former NHLer decides to share this thoughts on Kaepernick’s Nike ad
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

David Booth used to be quite the hockey player. Back in the 2008-09 season while with the Florida Panthers, he scored 31 goals and racked up 60 points in 72 games. However, the fact that you’re a professional athlete and have a following online doesn’t make your opinion any more important or valid. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you should be commenting on subjects well out of your reach in the first place.

While Colin Kaepernick’s Nike partnership and the ad that followed were receiving a variety of reactions back in September, Booth decided to share his thoughts with his almost 60, 000 Twitter followers.

Yes, he went there. The man that nearly fought Phil Kessel in practice while the two were together in Toronto during the 2014-15 season actually took went there. Then, as people began to respond, Booth double-down on his controversial take.

Thanks, Mr. Booth. We wish you all the best in the KHL this season.

A couple of guys named Josh had some indefensible tweets resurface
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Here’s a storyline that we saw a few times in 2018: Caucasian athlete named Josh has awful statements from his past uncovered just before or after one of the most important moments of their athletic careers.

The first was Josh Allen, a promising quarterback from Wyoming, who had a number of racist posts from 2012 and 2013 come to light only a few hours before the 2018 NFL Draft in April. A contender for the first overall pick, tweets containing the ‘n’ word — as well as the statement, “If it ain’t white, it ain’t right!” — resurfaced shortly before his potential employers would decide if they wanted him to join their organization.

Not ideal.

Allen apologized for the tweets, saying he was “young and dumb.” He went on to be drafted seventh overall by the Buffalo Bills.

A few months later, it was Josh Hader that had to deal with the consequences of his past. The star reliever for the Milwaukee Brewers had put together a fantastic first half of the 2018 season to earn himself a spot on the National League roster at the MLB All-Star Game. It was quite the achievement for the 24-year-old, who was only in his second campaign in the bigs after being drafted in the 19th round of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft.

Once he stepped off the mound during what should have been a celebratory showcase of his talent, social media posts from when he was 17 years old began to emerge.

In a word, they were toxic. Racist, homophobic, sexist and bigoted tweets from his past shifted the attention from the Midsummer Classic to Hader’s postgame apology.

“I obviously said some things that were inexcusable,” he stated. “That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today.”

A classic Koufax/Nye mix-up
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

This article desperately needs to lighten up a bit. Thankfully, FOX Sports came through for us in October. During Game 3 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the broadcaster’s official Twitter account had the following post up for about five minutes before it was deleted. As you’re probably well aware, 300 seconds was plenty of time to screenshot the hilarious error.

There’s no denying that this is a fantastic photo; however, the man to Rob Lowe’s left isn’t Bill Nye (The Science Guy). Nope. That’s three-time Cy Young winner, MLB Hall of Famer and Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax.

Talk about dropping the proverbial (base)ball.

Can you really blame FOX Sports, though? The similarities between the 82-year-old Koufax and 63-year-old Nye are uncanny, right? Plus, there’s no denying that both are incredible athletes.

Heisman Trophy winner apologizes hours after receiving award
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

With that cheery, innocent sports-related social media fail out of the way, we return you to your regularly scheduled list of athletes that shouldn’t have had access to the Internet while teenagers.

One of the most recent cases was that of Kyler Murray. Following a sparkling season with the Oklahoma Sooners, the star quarterback was named the winner of the 2018 Heisman Trophy, the highest individual achievement in college football. However, as we’ve learned from this year, the moment you achieve anything substantial in your life, people will dive into the depths of your social media accounts to dig for some dirt.

Only a few hours after being announced the award’s winner, the tweets began to come back from the dead. Shortly after that, the 21-year-old was saying ‘sorry’ for things that he posted at a very different time in his life.

So, what did we learn from all of this?

The lesson from the sports social media fails of 2018 is simple: If you plan to become a successful athlete that will be in the public eye, don’t publish racist, homophobic, bigoted, sexist, xenophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic or intolerant things on social media platforms.

Despite the warning, I’m sure that the 2019 version of this list will be similar in its composition. That’s just the world that we live in.