Late to the Game: Retweet Street

Late to the Game: Retweet Street

Kris Boyd annihilated the Internet at approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 3, when he retweeted a Texas A&M fan imploring the freshman cornerback and his teammate, standout freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson, to transfer schools. The bad part wasn’t that, via his retweet, Boyd seemingly agreed with the Aggie fan enough to push that message to all 10,000 of his followers. The real error here, even if we forgive this mistake as a mere oversight, is that at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 3, Boyd and the Longhorns were taking a much needed halftime break from the beating TCU was laying upon them.

What is this kid doing?! was the general consensus. Not only did Boyd bruise the pride of Longhorns from Amarillo to Zunkerville, but he also committed athlete malpractice by making himself publicly visible during a moment when we, as fans, don’t want to hear from him. In an age where the general public has the keenest insight into the minutiae of famous peoples’ lives, unless athletes are conveying boilerplate, rah-rah messages, we rarely want to hear from them. Maybe Boyd is the only person alive who still needs the now-maligned phrase “RTs ≠ endorsements” in his Twitter bio. Regardless, Millennials at this moment in time were surely dooming American culture as we know it, and Boyd’s retweet was the prism through which this scorched earth could be viewed.

So much hand-wringing later about the downfall of society at the hands of our new Snapchat and Twitter overlords, and Boyd’s indiscretion has all but been forgotten. There’s two reasons for that. One is that the following week, the Longhorns manhandled the much superior Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. “Winning takes care of everything,” Tiger Woods said in 2013, a few years after the 24-hour news cycle helped dismantle his once-steely psyche. The other reason is that Boyd was contrite, and even poked fun at himself after the OU game, tweeting a picture of himself in the Golden Hat, along with “How about a retweet on this?” and a couple of those emojis that indicate that someone is laughing so hard that tears are coming out of their eyes. Most explanations of Boyd’s behavior point to the fact that Boyd—like most people who like seeing their name online—will immediately retweet any mention with the words “Kris Boyd” in it. Well, perhaps not anymore.

Social media for athletes, especially college athletes who play for pride instead of, you know, frivolous things like money, is the most double-edged of swords. When Boyd and Jefferson were high school seniors just a few months ago, their every tweet was analyzed by beat writers and fans, hoping for a longhorn emoji or a Texas-centric hashtag that would indicate a commitment to UT. When those tweets eventually bounced into the ether, everyone rejoiced. Anything extraneous was seen as high school behavior, but now that these 18-year-olds have turned 19 and are playing for Texas, the consensus is that if they aren’t tweeting #HookEm or #LetsRide, they shouldn’t tweet at all. They should be watching film, or lifting weights, or even—as some may remember that these gifted physical specimens also attend a highly esteemed research university—attending class.

We saw another example of this when Nick Rose flubbed an extra point attempt against Cal that would have sent a 45-44 game into overtime. As I fought through the crowd on San Jacinto to get to my car after that game, conversation around me eventually reverted to a Twitter video Rose posted in June. In the video, a shirtless, floppy-haired Rose prepares to kick an extra point as held by backup quarterback Trey Holtz. As Rose approaches the ball, he slows down, does a 180, and bicycle-kicks the football through the uprights after a quick toss from Holtz. He even sticks the landing. Retweeted almost 1,500 times from Holtz’s account, it became the flip-kick seen ’round the world. So what did Longhorn fans have to say about Rose’s missed extra point, a kick he makes 99 out of 100 times?

“He can do a backflip, but can’t kick an extra point?!” said a wobbly man who then did an IRL SMDH. “It’s like, practice the actual kick!” Everyone in earshot agreed, and the conversation spread, like an analog viral tweet.

It’s all anyone could think about, to blame 14 seconds of a 21-year-old’s life for a high-pressure miscue three months later. It wasn’t the backflip that made him miss, folks. A month later he hit an 80-yard field goal while goofing around in a similar situation, and posted it to Twitter. No one seemed to remember this one, even though he kicked it off one of those automatic holder tees, with no one running at him, in shorts, and from a distance at which even Lane Kiffin and Sebastian Janikowski would balk. Rose had backflipped his way into infamy, just as Boyd tweeted his way into purgatory and back. Sports fans are a fickle bunch.

But don’t take it from me, an old married grump with a secret crippling addiction to Instagram and livetweeting. Charlie Strong’s social media policy is surprisingly lax, considering his old-school mentality and some notable student-athlete slip-ups during his short tenure. Some coaches keep players completely off social media, or ban certain platforms, notably Twitter.

“Social media is going to be the downfall of society,” Strong told reporters in July 2014 (he of course echoed this sentiment after Boyd’s retweet). Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News then informed Strong of the existence of a very popular parody Twitter account, @ChuckFnStrong, to which the corporeal Strong laughed: “See? That’s what I mean! Downfall of society.”

Even if the real Charlie Strong is being facetious, he has a point. Twitter is the devil, even if it has hashtag-blessed us with this, the greatest image of all time:


Top illustration by Melissa Reese.



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