This weekend, a video did the rounds on Twitter which showed an interaction between Cam Newton and a child that was attending his football camp. The child heckled Newton during a group huddle, reminding the QB of his employment status, which prompted Cam Newton to respond with the dismissive, “I’m Rich,” This of course led to a long argument (Again, between a child and a grown man) which, of course, got neither party anywhere.
This video went viral on Sunday, with many athletes and sports analysts speaking out against this child, calling him “Disrespectful,” “Ungrateful” and even just plain “Dumb” Of course, because sports’ Twitter often fails to form original thoughts and loves to just regurgitate whatever the popular players are saying, this caused a major public pile on, with thousands and thousands of users unironically tweeting out their support of Cam (poor Cam, a grown man got heckled by a CHILD, how will he ever survive?).
Sure, I will concede that this child probably should not have done this if he ever wants to make it to the big leagues. Also, it is Cam Newton’s camp; disrespecting the dude running the show can result in consequences, so another reason to not do it. I am in no way saying that what the child did was proper or correct and I would never have done this if I were in his position.
However, the reaction and response this child received are extremely disproportionate to his mistakes. Sure, he should have been kicked out of camp, sure, he should have lost a prime opportunity to open doors and make connections, and sure, this could have impacts on his long-term football dreams. However, whenever his consequences were elevated from those appropriate responses to the massive online pile on and shaming that he received is when people should have realized, “This got out of hand”
Although this is an underage child, his face is plastered all over Twitter and ESPN and Sports Illustrated, with sports analysts and players and fans blasting this kid for what he said, how he acted, and wishing ill on him. He is a child, all children make mistakes and do stupid things (we all did, and if you say you did not, you are probably still making similar mistakes), and it is irresponsible for us to take such a small and harmless mistake like this one and destroy this child’s life because of it.
If you need to publicly shame someone (it is the Internet after all), how about the grown man who got into a heated argument with a child, in front of a bunch of other children? How about the grown man who flaunted his wealth at a child who did not even mention or consider his wealth? How about the grown man who posted several videos later showing him continue to pour it onto the child in front of his friends and teammates, making fun of his team’s record and making it the child’s fault they did so poorly? How about the grown man who used this opportunity not to make an example and encourage young men to have good character but instead used the opportunity to build himself up and advertise himself?
Public shaming is rarely a good thing, but when a child is a target, it is absolutely never a good thing. There are plenty of resources available to tell you exactly that (For those looking for a video source, John Oliver did a video about public shaming a few years back), and if you participated in the recent public shaming of a child, you should read them and send them to every other person who joined your cause because this was disgusting, and should never happen again.