'Humiliating' social media posts hurt school basketball side following heavy defeat
A Hawera High School teacher has lamented the "humiliating" social media attention given to her school's basketball side following its crushing defeat to Palmerston North Boys' High School.
The side suffered a well-documented 207-27 defeat at the hands of the Palmerston North Boys' premier team at the zone three national secondary school qualifying championships on Wednesday.
But physical education head of department Pauline Hurley said social media posts made by NZhoops following the defeat, and the ensuing online reaction, had affected the young team more than the match itself.
NZHoops published the score on Twitter with the comment "Good grief", and also published the score on Facebook.
"It's not the first hiding that has been handed out in sport, and it won't be the last," Hurley said in a statement.
"The team were OK about the loss and accepted it until posted on social media by NZhoops.
"The team has learnt the hard way that social media/media can be vicious. It is sad that it is adults handing out the humiliation."
The players had handled the situation "admirably" and had received "a good lesson in resiliency", Hurley said.
"Our boys will be better players and people for this."
NZhoops associate editor Sam Garriock said the posts were not intended to embarrass the Hawera side.
"We had a few reasons as to why we publicised it," Garriock said.
"One, a team scoring 200 points in a game is historic and newsworthy. And it's not 1990 anymore; the score was printed online – any basketball follower would have seen it originally.
"We also wanted to promote the conversation about running up the score. People will either say, 'Hopefully this won't ever happen again', or 'It's a legitimate part of high school basketball'.
"And I think it's done an OK job on that part of it."
Palmerston North coach Miles Pearce, who has defended his team's approach, was an experienced coach who would have known the rout was going to make headlines, Garriock said.
The website would probably continue to post about one-sided scorelines, to ensure the discussion about mismatches did not go away.
"It certainly wasn't to single out Hawera's as being a terrible performance. Palmerston North is one of the best, if not the best, high school team in the country."
But Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) chief executive Iain Potter questioned the need to publicly post the scoreline.
"I don't think it was necessary to draw attention to the score. What does that achieve, drawing the public's attention to it?
"I'm quite happy with people drawing our own attention to it, that's absolutely fine. But to put it in the public domain was only ever going to result in a level of embarrassment for some of the Hawera guys."
NZhoops were "good followers of basketball", and BBNZ was considering talking to them about managing potentially damaging posts.
"It's just about putting another filter on it, and asking, 'Is this going to bring any harm to the individuals involved?'."
The scoreline also highlighted the need for BBNZ to manage its growing playing numbers, Potter said.
There were 352 school teams registered this year – 100 more than four years ago – and BBNZ did not want to "frighten" the new teams away.
"We have to think of ways we can offer appropriate levels of competition, rather than bundling them all into one."
Palmerston North's attitude towards the game was disappointing, Potter said.
"There's a lot of ways they could have used the game for their own benefit without racking up 200 points."
- Sunday Star Times