Young Boy is a Sports Model for All

When the San Francisco 49ers lost by a field goal two weeks ago in the NFC Championship game to the New York Giants, fans didn’t have to review film or listen to experts to know why their team lost. Their fingers point to No. 10 wide receiver Kyle Williams and they told him how they felt.

The 49ers led by four points in the fourth quarter when the Giants scored off of a fumble by Williams. The 49ers responded with a field goal to tie the score and took the game into overtime. Williams fumbled again allowing the Giants to score a field goal and win the championship title. The final score was 20-17 (find a full play-by-play review of the game at ESPN NFL). The win gave the Giants the opportunity to rematch the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl this weekend in Indianapolis. While the Giants’ players and coaches celebrate their victory, the 49ers are trying to refocus the team for next season.

Williams is the player most fans deemed the weak link of the 49ers. He is blamed for the 10 points the Giants scored for the win. He fumbled the two balls that led to the Giants’ game-winning points. The fans voiced their frustrations by sending death threats and other abusive statements to Williams through various social media outlets. His teammates defended him by saying that it’s a team sports, no one individual can be held solely responsible for the outcome of a game.

In an interview with ESPN Radio, Williams said he appreciated how quickly his teammates defended him. Williams was warned disgruntled fans might contact him with negative feedback; however, the number of personal attacks he received shocked him. Direct access fans have to players through Twitter and other social media outlets  allows continuous, instantaneous scrutiny of athletes, in this case Williams, from fans. The Huffington Post reported on one fan in particular who had something to say but voiced it in the form of an old-fashion letter.

Owen Shure (pictured below), a seven-year-old 49ers fan, began to cry when the game concluded and his team’s season had officially come to an end. Shure was prompted to write to Williams after his father put the game into perspective. Shure’s father told him, “If you feel this way, how sad do you think Kyle Williams is?” The letter was not sent to chastise Williams but it was sent as a means of comfort for the football player. The boy wrote (in his own words and grammar):

 

Dear Mr. Williams:

We just watched the Playoff game. I feel really bad for you but I wanted to tell you that you had a great season. you sould be very proud, so I wanted to say thank you.

I am your #1 FAN!

Owen Shure
 Los Angeles, CA

p.s. your awsome

 

I could not imagine the look on Williams’ face when he read this: Knowing this young boy admired him, even when the majority of Williams’ fans had turned their backs on him. Amidst all of the extremely threatening social media posts, one seven-year-old boy hand-wrote him a letter of encouragement.

Social media helps build relationships and keep people connected. However, we often use it as a way to criticize others and tear them down. Shure is an amazing example of how every fan should be. He was able to look past the score of a game and just love the players. Children show what the world of sports should be. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about enjoying the game. Nowadays, monetary pressures to achieve certain times, standards, or statistics can take some of the enjoyment away. This can make sports into a game of economic benefits rather than a game of passion and entertainment.

It’s a shame the instant access of social media and the intense pressures built around professional sports subjected Williams to negative feedback as severe as death threats.  The fact that a seven-year-old boy is more mature and exhibits better sportsmanship and loyalty to a team than adult fans is disappointing. I think everyone could learn something from Shure’s letter: at the end of the day, it really is just a sport and sports are meant to unite us, not pull us apart.

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