The internet was hailed as a way to connect the world, bringing greater understanding and the sharing of ideas. It has given a voice to many that never had an outlet to share their opinions before, including at this website.
But there is a semi-permanence to the internet as compared to just uttering your thoughts and watching them disappear into thin air. NFL draft prospect Josh Allen found that out the hard way last week when he was subject to scrutiny days before the draft, after it was revealed he had posted racially insensitive tweets while in high school. It is uncertain if those comments affected his draft standing, but it certainly gave him some negative publicity, and he will have some explaining to do with his new teammates in Buffalo.
It is not just football players subject to scrutiny on social media. Last Friday on Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports, Dayton Moore was asked about the role of social media in assessing potential draft picks and whether he has passed on a player because of what he had posted.
“Oh yea, we have. Again, every year in the draft, you line the players up based on ability. Its really not that difficult to do. The challenge is trying to figure out all the other stuff as well. You’re always splitting hairs, you’re looking to breaking ties and it always goes back to the makeup of the player. If we feel a player has a suspect makeup over another one, we’re certainly going to take that into consideration.”
Moore talked a lot about how the personal lives of their players was an important factor since it would impact their professional lives. He stressed the importance of the knowing who the players’ male role model was as a kid, whether it be their father, uncle, or coach. The team conducts extensive background checks on potential draftees, talking to everyone in their life, including teachers, family members, even ex-girlfriends.
“You find the peers that these players are around on a daily basis. That tells you a lot as well. My parents told me many, many years ago - show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.”
It probably should not be a surprise that a sports team would conduct thorough due diligence before investing thousands - if not millions of dollars into a player. NFL teams have made it a habit of asking ridiculous questions before their draft. Many NBA teams do the same kind of background check into a player’s history, talking to people in the player’s life. And social media background checks have become commonplace in hiring potential employees. Heck, the Royals have apparently fired a popular employee for his social media posts.
But trying to discern the mental makeup and character of an 18-year old is tricky business, subject to a lot of stereotypes, biases, and pseudo-science masquerading as wisdom. The movie Moneyball lampooned these kind of assessments when scouts discussed the mental makeup of a potential player. (NSFW language)
The Royals had a terrific clubhouse during their run of success, with players that had a “never-say-die” attitude that supported each other like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. It helps that Moose and Hosmer were also very good baseball players. Certainly the Royals aren’t passing on top shelf talent to take “good guys”, just that character is perhaps a “sixth tool” to be a tiebreaker. You can certainly see with prospects like Nicky Lopez, M.J. Melendez, and Michael Gigliotti, they have continued to populate their minors with high character players.
It is great that the Royals are looking at finding and developing good men, rather than just good players. The Chiefs suffered great backlash when they drafted Tyreek Hill, who had hit his pregnant girlfriend while in college. Hill turned out to be a fantastic draft pick, but it also sent a message that perhaps domestic violence wasn’t as important as winning ballgames.
So there is a delicate balance here. The Royals, ultimately, are a sports team judged on winning ballgames. But you certainly want a roster full of guys you can be proud of. Can you achieve both goals? What do you think? How important is character these days? Is it something you can even project in an 18-year old?