Bangladesh’s cricket fans are infamous for being impatient. Throwing players under the bus after a poor outing is a common occurrence among our fanbase. While it’s okay to have high expectations, fans often blur the fine line between constructive criticism and abuse.
Nazmul Hossain Shanto is the latest to voice his concerns. In a recent interview, he stated how incessant online trolls impacted his mental health. Some even abused his family, bringing enormous emotional strain to the young athlete.
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This reveals a deep-rooted problem plaguing Bangladesh’s cricket culture. Many fans think these players have been programmed to perform, no matter what. Fans seldom understand that cricketers are humans too, and players can have their fair share of ups-and-downs in their careers as well as personal lives. Other fans simply abuse specific players just to fit in.
Not only do these discussions make social media toxic, but can have far-reaching impacts on the players as well. Experienced players might recover their form after a short time, but for young cricketers, the impacts of constant maltreatment can be devastating.
The emotional strain might break the mental resolve of these players, causing them to perform poorly. The abuse might even discourage them from playing the game altogether.
Against this backdrop, its clearly evident fans need to change their ways. And for this, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) needs to lead from the front. BCB may introduce regular campaigning, which involves the players, to raise awareness among fans about the consequences of ill treatment on players. Additionally, it can also stage a social media boycott as a mark of protest against social media companies’ inactivity in tackling abuse. England and Australia’s cricket boards joined an inter-sport social media boycott in April 2021, which aimed to uproot player abuse from social media.
They should also hire trained sports psychologists to support players who are out of form. For players going through a rough patch, this help will be invaluable as the professionals can understand the psyche of the players. Coaches have a big role to play here as they can protect the players from the media. Small bits of backing from their coaches can go a long way towards helping these players regain their form.
The players, for their part, may steer clear of social media to avoid negative discourse around their dip in form. It will help them keep their focus and shut the outside noises off. In addition, their family members should refrain from publicly commenting about their loved one when the player is in a rough stretch. Speaking up against this backdrop only brings further ridicule, just like we saw in the cases of Shakib and Mahmudullah.
At the end of the day, it’s clear that the toxicity surrounding our cricket needs to be reduced, to allow the players freedom to perform to their very best and bring accolades in our cricket.
The Guardian. 29 April 2021. Sports Bodies to boycott social media for Bank Holiday weekend over abuse.
Inqiad is a passionate Bucks fan and a Giannis stan. Contact him at [email protected]