What were you doing when you were 17, going on 18, years old?
Surely you didn't have the spotlight shining on you, every move analyzed, every social media post broken down into a scientific equation and complete strangers trying to dictate where you end up playing college football at the next level. For me, I had none of those things. Despite the fact that I had the athleticism and grace of an elephant on a tightrope that didn't allow to pursue sports, I was just a dumb kid ignorant to the world with a lot to learn. Social media, especially Twitter, came later for me.
Mike Weber might be another victim who was plagued by the "is social media a blessing or a curse?" game. This time, he lost, and it wasn't even his fault. Weber's story and path to Ohio State doesn't need to be re-hashed. No matter how controversial the events that happened after his letter of intent was signed were, it's over, he's gone. And people, some Michigan fans in particular, need to accept that fact.
However, Weber was taped working out wearing a Michigan T-shirt. Perhaps not the smartest move for the Buckeye to make, but let's be honest, the ensuing backlash the young man received which he later had to apologize for is a cause for concern and, simply put, unfortunate.
The pressure these teenagers, young men if you will, are under is extreme for someone their age. The spotlight is bright, every move you make is supposedly calculated and every word you utter is under a lease magnified by one thousand. This is the way modern recruiting works these days. Do some love it more than others? Of course, who wouldn't? A high school junior or senior basking in the attention coming from all over the country, my high school self is begging me where he can sign up. But the attention is not for everyone.
Blogs, recruiting outlets and other publications also help accelerate the spotlight to these kids. Make no mistake about it, us here at Maize n Brew certainly add to the fervor with our coverage, we are not without blame or trying to act innocent. With coverage these days, by showing highlight tapes, discussing "dream schools" and dream scenarios while speculating where decommitted kids will end up at National Signing Day has turned recruiting from an afterthought to a money-making machine.
As the saying goes, "with great power comes great responsibility". The power comes from the user. Some, not all, fans enable this manufactured "power" by showing these kids attention. Desperately pleading for a kid to join his or her school. "This could be you," some of them say. I want this to be you: Just simply stop.
With the spotlight on, every slip-up will be magnified. But the fact that the public is so intently focused on what a teenager is wearing proves that sometimes recruiting coverage gets taken too far. I get it, it's sacrilege to the rivalry. But since when has the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry turned into beating each other off the field and losing focus of the bigger picture? Beat them on the football field.
It's the simple fact that a few seconds clip of a video (that way later deleted, mind you) was blown so far out of proportion is the unfortunate part about this. By taking to Twitter an offering a public apology for a T-shirt, yes a T-shirt, it shows just how far fanbases--and I'm speaking for every school, not just those involved in this instance--take things. Let him have his peace now that the process is over. Sure, the coverage will only intensify in college, but let the kid graduate high school and prepare to achieve a dream.
Airing out his dirty laundry or not, Weber could do much worse than a T-shirt.