How Social Media is Ruining Our Game

Social Media allows anyone to be an expert. Regardless of their history, knowledge, or background. Simply create a compelling graphic, bog it down with information, and then post it.

It won’t take long for a discussion to start. The post will get shared, liked, retweeted, etc. Before you know it, thousands of people have seen it.

Don’t get me wrong – there is power in this – when used correctly, it can advance our game. But when the information is bad or when it starts arguments rather than healthy discussion, it does far greater harm than good.

Facts are stubborn things. However, opinions can be the same.

The difference is that a Fact is a Fact-based in reality and proven by demonstrable evidence to prove that it is indeed a Fact. An opinion is simply what someone thinks. It can be based on their experience or influence -but at the end of the day, it’s not based on anything that is provable. And opinions should always be received with skepticism.

On Social Media – the loudest voice tends to garner the most attention.

It seems the more brash it is, the more people tend to think it’s correct. This alone worries me for our sport and how easily Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be platforms for misinformation.

When I first started coaching softball in 1998, I was incredibly eager to learn, and I got lucky. The National Coaching Convention was held in Lincoln, Nebraska when I was a young coach and I was fortunate enough to find myself in a small classroom with less than a dozen coaches listening to Mike Candrea for two hours meticulously detailing what it took to be a successful softball coach.

Furiously, I penned copious amounts of notes. My hand cramped and my brain never stopped spinning. By the time Candrea finished, all the coaches but me had seemingly heard enough. I stayed and waited for them to leave. Then, I approached Coach Candrea as he packed up.

I extended my hand and thanked him for the information and then told him how much I wanted to learn and be a good coach. He looked at his watch and informed me he had a flight to catch. I said okay and started to walk away when I heard him sigh and say, “Okay, kid, have a seat. I’ll give you a few minutes.”

Coach Candrea spent the next hour or so answering every dumb question I had. He did so with patience and expertise. By the end of our one-on-one, I felt competent and even more eager to learn.

That education, he didn’t have to give, stuck with me for my entire coaching career.

The players I had the honor to coach, benefited from his simple act of kindness. I believe my success as a coach can largely be attributed to the talented young women I coached, but I know I was better at handling that talent because of Coach Candrea.

In 2008, I penned my first book, Coaching Fastpitch Softball: Championship Drills, Tips, and Insights. It was an Amazon bestseller and Tim Walton and others praised it. That book led me to Don Slaught, who was the hitting coach for the World Series Detroit Tigers. He called me after picking up a copy and introduced me to the new technology he was pioneering at the time called RightViewPro. The technology allowed coaches to analyze how the best players in the world hit. It was a revolutionary technology that made hitters better and coaches wiser.

Because of my relationship with Don, I’ve had hundreds of encounters with Olympians, MLB Hall of Famers, MLB All-Stars, and National Championship Softball Coaches and Programs.

I say all of this to contrast how I gained knowledge. It was a direct result of the relationships and opportunities I was lucky enough to experience. Due to this, I founded my entire coaching philosophy on facts.

Today, I fear coaches, players, and parents are being influenced by opinions. Most of which are probably well-intended but nonetheless are negatively influencing athletes, parents, and coaches.

This blog isn’t about who’s right or who’s wrong – further, it’s not a debate on methods. It’s simply about receiving good information vs. bad. My best advice is to carefully consider your source the next time you click on a posting. While the information may be easy to access and quick to obtain, it doesn’t mean it’s worthy to use or share with others.

As always, if you have any questions or if I can share anything helpful with you, please let me know!