H.S. Basketball Player of the Year Stripped of Award Due to Obscene Tweet
A word of warning to student-athletes out there: Think twice before you tell an opposing team to "f--- yourself" on social media.
In mid-March, the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization stripped its Division II Player of the Year award from Pembroke Academy guard Pat Welch for doing exactly that.
Welch helped lead his team to back-to-back Division II basketball titles, according to the Concord Monitor, earning him the Player of the Year award from the NHBCO. However, after taking down Portsmouth High School in the title game, Welch fired out a tweet that he would soon regret.
"Shout out to Portsmouth, you may have won in the regular season...... But we won the ship you suck," he tweeted, followed with the uncensored version of the hashtag "#f---yourself." He deleted the tweet roughly 15 minutes after posting it, but the damage was already done.
In a statement released last weekend, per the Monitor, NHBCO President Gary Noyes wrote:
"The NHBCO is disappointed to announce the unfortunate decision to rescind the Division 2 Player of the Year awarded to Pat Welch from Pembroke Academy. Last week, Pat Welch was named by the Division 2 coaches as their Player of the Year. Since that time, it has come to the NHBCO executive board's attention that Pat Welch displayed flagrant unsportsmanlike behavior. We have contacted Pembroke Academy and informed them of our decision. Pat Welch will not be allowed to represent his school at either the senior games being held at NHTI this Sunday nor at the Twin State game vs Vermont this summer. It is with great sadness that this committee has to act on this situation, but we strive to uphold the tenet that this award is not based solely on a basketball player's ability but also on that player's character and demonstrated sportsmanship."
In Welch's place, the NHBCO named junior Jourdain Bell from Bishop Brady High School (Concord, N.H.) as the new Division II Player of the Year. The organization also barred Welch from participating in any postseason all-star games as part of his punishment.
"I want people to know that I'm really sorry about what I said," Welch told Ray Duckler of the Monitor. "This is a learning experience. It's something that will never happen again. For kids who look up to me, think about your words before you put them out there."
Welch went to Portsmouth to apologize to the coach and athletic director face-to-face, but it was too little, too late. His coach, Matt Alosa, felt the NHBCO overstepped its bounds in stripping him of the award, however.
"I don't believe the punishment fits the crime," Alosa told reporters at the annual NHBCO Granite State High School games, per the New Hampshire Union Leader. "They basically took away Pat's body of work this season because of a tweet that ended up online for 15 minutes."
This isn't the first example of a student-athlete facing repercussions because of an online posting—back in January 2012, a New Jersey high school football player was expelled by his Catholic school for vulgar content on his Twitter account—and it likely won't be the last. Let Welch's experience serve as yet another reminder for all student-athletes to be careful what you post on social-media networks, no matter how secure you believe your privacy settings to be.
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