By: W. Bennett Brown
In a day and age where social media is prevalent and comments and complaints can be shelled out faster than you can yell ‘goal’, one upset Rider hockey fan made her feelings known via Twitter during a Men’s Division II matchup between the Liberty University Flames and the Rider Broncs on Saturday, Oct. 15.
With the popularity of social media and Twitter, users are able to message and tweet at almost anyone they please. People are able to get in contact with each other faster and easier than any time in human existence.
Associated Press award-winning broadcaster and Liberty student, Adam Fornwalt, was announcing the game alongside Joe Mixie. It was Fornwalt’s tweet that got things started.
Fornwalt left a link for the live stream of the game on his Twitter, and the Rider Broncs Twitter account re-tweeted Fornwalt’s message. Shortly after the re-tweet by Rider Hockey, fans began to message various Liberty Twitter accounts including Fornwalt, Mixie and Liberty Hockey to communicate their complaints to each user.
“You have people on social media that are just there to put you down or to make light of what you are doing and I think that you have to pick and choose the people that are actually there to have a real conversation, and for those who are just there to hate on you,” said Fornwalt.
According to Fornwalt, shortly after the game began, fans of Rider hockey began tweeting at Liberty Club Sports (Liberty Club Sports has nothing to do with the actual production of the sports broadcast).
The Twitter war began, as the battle between Rider and Liberty coincided on the ice.
“I’m pretty outspoken and tend to leave my heart on my sleeve,” said Fornwalt. “I think I could have handled it better. At some point you have to stick up for yourself in a Christ-like manner. I don’t think what I said was rude.”
The opening puck drop was not caught on camera, which led to @_alexiskennedy’s frustration. She was also upset about the fact more of the warm ups were not shown.
“That was one of the first times dealing with that, as far as someone I did not know attacking me on social media,” said Fornwalt. “I think I learned from it. At the end of the day it encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing.”
According to Fornwalt, young broadcasters will make mistakes. Fornwalt called the Rider team ‘The Broncos’ instead of ‘The Broncs’ and a Rider fan was unhappy with his pronunciation. The fan began pestering the Division II broadcast and the hockey team.
“I joke around that that’s my first hater,” said Fornwalt. “I’m sure there will be plenty more to come. They say haters will come around when you’re doing something right. I felt like the broadcast was good.”
Fornwalt started at the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland and has worked at several smaller colleges. Fornwalt has reported for events such as the Cal Ripken World Series and is currently broadcasting at Liberty University. He is part of two radio shows at the 90.9 radio station at Liberty University.
“I could have kept going, there were several more responses to me after that from other people not just her,” said Fornwalt. “But at the end of the day sometimes you have to walk away, your Twitter fight is not worth my career.”
More tweets were sent and exchanged throughout the afternoon, some were congratulatory, and others included expletives and negative feedback from those outside of Liberty. Liberty University ended up defeating Rider with a score of 5-1.
Former Emmy Award winning anchor and ESPN producer, Brandon Pickett, says when interacting with the public try not to get too emotional about what people have to say.
“I’d try to have an open mind and know they have their own opinion,” said Pickett. “Sometimes what they say you can learn from. But also don’t get too excited when they say something good. Don’t get too upset when they say something bad.”
Digital media student, Julie Schlenker, says the human element of communication may be disregarded when talking to other humans online and that people hide behind their computer screens.
“A lot of times people communicate more often via social media, but I think it takes a lot of the depth out of conversations because you’re hiding in an area where they can’t physically see your emotions,” said Schlenker.
Fornwalt says that Twitter is a great tool for those in media, but it is important to be careful what one posts on the Internet, because once it’s out there anyone can see it.
“It (a tweet) starts getting shared and it snowballs,” said Fornwalt. “Really that is how social media works today, things snowball.”
The various Twitter accounts of those who tweeted at Liberty Hockey and Fornwalt were contacted for an interview. No responses or comments were made from those tweeting with complaints.
“We’ve lost some personal interaction and I think that’s bad,” said Pickett. “The person you see on TV is not always the same person that you’d see in person. You have some preconceived notion of them just by what you see on TV… social media has helped us communicate, it’s just how we are communicating.”
Listen to the audio version of the story below.