On Facebook Friends and Creepiness

Submitted by Big Boutros on February 3rd, 2009 at 11:19 PM

MichFan1997's recent Facebook conversation with Ricardo Miller has rekindled the shouldn't-be-but-is awkward topic of how much access to high school athletes is necessary, appropriate, and/or healthy.

For the record, I am a 21-year-old junior at the University of Michigan; I am Facebook friends with many members of the football team, including William Campbell and Tate Forcier, who only recently arrived on campus. However, I have never made any attempt to communicate with them except Andre Criswell, who often asks his "friends" to guess his current weight. I have never posted on anyone's wall or added an optional "personal message" when I friend request them. I simply hit the friend request button and wait for a confirmation.

But isn't that counterintuitive? Am I not requesting this man's friendship because I want to be his friend? Because I want him to acknowledge me?

At the present apex of online activity and access, I would actually contend that such is not the case. I don't particularly care what Bryant Nowicki is up to or what kind of music Dann O'Neill likes. Adding a football player as a Facebook friend is simply the current generation's trading card. There is nothing in the friend request transaction that belies sincerity; the athlete in question never has to look at my name again and most likely never will. He simply hits "accept" and I get the satisfaction of listing Johnny Sears, Jr. as one of my "friends." That's where it ends. Or at least should end.

But unfortunately, it doesn't end there, because high schoolers with no obligations or commitments to a university also have Facebook accounts, and it is in these situations that the creepiness escalates.

In the comments section of the Ricardo Miller diary entry, chitownblue said:

"Every time I hear about an (adult?) fan having facebook and myspace conversations with 17-year-old kids, I get completely and utterly skeeved out, and worried for these kids. Not because you're a rapist (you're probably not), but because these kids naively let hundreds of people gain access to their lives, and the second they decommit, or drop a pass, or get arrested with weed, or anything, they have hundreds of strangers whom they've 'disappointed' with access to give them a piece of their mind."

This is a legitimate concern; I looked through the "previous posts" on William Campbell's wall and found these comments, dated December 29th, 2008--the height of his decommitment.

"Wow, bro...All I gotta say is what ever happened to loyalty?? UR not a true Michigan man, get the hell out and stay out!!!!"
-Brandon Coot Kusz of Kalamazoo Valley Community College (a true Michigan man if there ever was one)

Obviously that kind of message is despicable and Mr. Coot Kusz is an irredeemable pile of shit, but, as rude as that post was, I found the resultant comments way "creepier."

"Dude, Brandon. STFU, Big Will hasn't even made his mind up yet. Dude, Coot get a life."

"Dude So What. He shouldn't be bitched at for changing his mind."

"hey brandon get a fucking life you fucking loser"

"it unreal that u guys make these comment on here. its reall uncalled for i mean im crushed too that he prolly wont be donning the maize and blue, which by the way u would look really good in big will, but i mean hes still just a kid. tone it down with all the criticizum. Hey Big Will if u change ur mind Michigans here. Youd start right away ya no" (spelling unchanged)

Keep in mind that all of these comments were posted on William Campbell's wall, not Mr. Coot Kusz's. Campbell's "defenders" didn't want Campbell to feel better, and they didn't really care if Mr. Coot Kusz regretted his asshole comment. They believed that Kusz's comment cost Michigan ten Recruit Points and they wanted the glory of restoring them. "Gosh," Campbell said in their minds, "that Kusz guy is a total dick who makes me want to eschew Michigan for LSU, but thanks to Jordan and Dylan's reaffirming pep talks, my faith in the Wolverines is restored to an amount identical to the moment immediately preceding Kusz's comment."

These are the creepers. Anyone who friends a high school football or basketball player is doing so with the warped and fictional assumption that he can actually recruit the kid simply with the power of the internet. These are the same people who start groups like "Bring Jelani Jenkins to Michigan" and actually accrue enormous memberships.

Facebook friendships with enrolled college football players is not inherently creepy because there is no recruiting fantasy involved. They're already there; there's nothing to sell.

Comments

chris16w

February 3rd, 2009 at 11:33 PM ^

I wonder if they would have been so quick to defend him if he wasn't considering Michigan anymore. Were there any "defenders" on the pages of Newsome, Fera, etc.? I'd doubt it.

brown

February 4th, 2009 at 1:01 AM ^

chitownblue: the mgoblog enforcer haha.

I think what he's saying is that a lot of people come to this site to read articles ABOUT RECRUITS. Thus, it is slightly hypocritical for those people to criticize others who take their need to find out about recruits just one step further.

Eh. It's all a matter of degree, I guess. I don't condone facebook friending athletes, but not because they're in high school. I don't really get why people make such a big deal about their age. 17 and 18 year olds are just as facebook friendable as someone who is in their 20s and in college. What makes it questionable is that they don't actually know them in real life.

From the sound of it, ricardo miller enjoys talking to fans, so for him I guess its fine to be "stalked", but I'm pretty sure a lot of them find it annoying.

MichFan1997

February 4th, 2009 at 12:12 AM ^

facebook contact with a recruit? where the FUCK did you get that from what i said? everything i posted were things said by Ricardo within a span of a few minutes. He was added. I said that we're happy to have him and good luck with his senior year. He responded. A brief exchange ensued and I haven't had any sort of contact with him since. Don't skew reality based on an assumption to prove some sort of point that you don't really have about me.

Big Boutros

February 4th, 2009 at 12:40 AM ^

You sought him out on Facebook. You sent him a buttery message to which he replied. You followed that up with the plea (in your words, you "kind of jokingly suggested") that he convince more Florida-based high school football players to come to Ann Arbor. Tell me truthfully you weren't seeking those mystical Recruiting Points.

PattyMax64

February 3rd, 2009 at 11:48 PM ^

I gotta agree with you on this one Boutros. They are kids, and we don't know them. Lets be honest, we shouldn't even friend request them. People are terribly invasive, and if I was in their place, I wouldn't accept any requests, or potentially not even have one at all. Colt McCoy and many others don't have them just because of the invasiveness involved.

Tacopants

February 3rd, 2009 at 11:51 PM ^

Facebook does wonders for recruit or player love lives. They don't have to go to random parties anymore! I hear Tate is cold!

Too far?

What you do with your facebook account is your own business. I wouldn't be too worried about recruit or player psyches. There's always the "delete" button, as well as the defriending option. I also don't think that recruits/players care about the opinions of people who added them to look cool and/or stalk. When any person leaves a dumb comment on a recruit's wall, it just makes the commenter look like an ass.

Just don't become That Guy.

GNM

February 4th, 2009 at 12:03 AM ^

I typically am only facebook friends with people that are actual friends, or acquaintances, or that I have at least met at some point in my life.

It works out well for me.

willywill9

February 4th, 2009 at 12:16 AM ^

I don't know... in general I say use common sense but... that's all relative. Maybe it's just me, but I don't go looking up players' profiles on either facebook or myspace. Then again I don't like adding people I don't know on facebook.

Just imagine, looking at the umich directory, finding a kid's address... writing him a handwritten letter and asking him "I want to request that you be my friend. So...will you? Feel free to send a letter back with detailed request on how we know each other."

Obviously it's not exactly the same; but to me.. it's equally creepy. Where do we draw the line? It's not farfetched to see a post down the road saying "Tate's in my Poly Sci 160 class and he didn't show up for the midterm..." Or "Big Will lives in my hall and I didn't see him outside at 3 AM when some drunken idiot pulled the fire alarm in West Quad."

Ernis

February 4th, 2009 at 12:29 AM ^

What I find most entertaining/disturbing is that there are people out there who care enough and are deranged enough to think that they can somehow make a difference as to a recruit's decision. Such action betrays a complete disconnect from reality. A split-second of rational thought would reveal that the recruit certainly will not be moved by the dazzling persuasion of Random-Facebooker-I-Don't-Know-#235. And should it matter if there is a hefty sum of random facebookers sharing an identical sentiment in most uncouth fashion? Should numbers alone suffice to prompt an espousal to a given university? Yet there are those who think they HAVE THE POWER to do what The Great Rodriguez hypothetically could not. Absurd!

MMBhorn

February 4th, 2009 at 1:06 AM ^

I agree with this post almost in it's entirety. I do think that facebook befriending high school prospects is out of line, and frankly a little weird. That said, I don't see anything wrong with groups like "Bring Jelani Jenkens to Michigan!" I think that those are a rather good way for people to show their support for prospective Wolverines. Regular students can voice their support for a recruit and discuss him there, without directly involving him. Then the prospect is free to look at the group if they want, or they can ignore it all.

Geaux_Blue

February 4th, 2009 at 1:31 AM ^

if a recruit is unable to keep his privacy at high school standing, which thereby prevents people older than him from searching and finding him, or removing people he finds to not be productive/normal to include, i'm not sure he also has the poise or maturity to handle a lot of life's issues.

they open themselves to this world by doing that. last i checked facebook has about 900 different ways to keep people from contacting you. they're asking for the attention by opening their account to the public. i don't have players added but i also frankly don't see the big deal.

2Blue4You

February 4th, 2009 at 9:11 AM ^

I do not put facebook groups in the same category as writing on walls of athletes. I do not have a problem w/ groups that support something even if it is a commit coming to AA. Way different and less creepy than actually putting your sentiments in writing on the wall of a recruit. I'm sure these recruits will learn as more and more of this behavior is demonstrated. There is always idiots to keep writing them.