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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Men’s basketball temporarily disabled social media comments

The men’s basketball team is once again enabling comments on their official social media accounts. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

The official social media accounts of the St. Joe’s men’s basketball team are allowing comments from fans again after comments on posts were temporarily disabled for weeks.

The team’s 4-14 record is one of their worst start in over a decade. This season marks the Hawk’s second with Head Coach Billy Lange. 

Matthew Gifford ’06, founder of Hawk Hill Hardwood, a website dedicated to St. Joe’s sports, confirmed most of the comments left on the team’s social media accounts before they were disabled were generally negative.

“In a year where fans can’t be at games, and a lot of people probably making these comments are people that go to games, it gives them an opportunity to vent,” Gifford said. 

Given that, Gifford said fans should be allowed to express their frustration.

Brendan Prunty ’06, vice president of DKC Public Relations, said he disagreed with the team’s decision to disable comments. Prunty, a former sports writer for Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and Rolling Stone Magazine, called the decision “short-sighted.” 

“When you just suffer a bad loss or you suffer a string of losses or a bad season, shutting it down is really never the answer,” Prunty said. “It’s just shutting down avenues of dialogue and communication.”

SJU Athletics declined to comment when asked for information about who made the decision to disable comments, and when. 

“If they were to say, ‘We care about our students, they don’t like reading what they’re reading, so we’re going to disable comments,’ I don’t see a single person objecting to that,” Gifford said. “If it was in the department, then I think there was an overall sentiment of it being on the more thin-skin side to not be able to take it.”

Ashley Dabb, current visiting professor of sports marketing, has experience making such decisions. Dabb served as vice president of marketing and communication for the Philadelphia Union from 2008-16. She also served as the chief marketing officer for the National Lacrosse League from 2016-19.

Dabb said social media is generally a negative space for sports. 

“We feel entitled to those things like commenting, liking and sharing posts, but unfortunately people abuse that privilege,” Dabb said. 

Dabb said she saw her fair share of negative comments during her time at both organizations.

“We could be doing great things in the community, but ultimately people are going to get on social media and they’re going to complain about why you’re supporting this issue and not supporting that issue,” Dabb said. “It’s sort of a lose-lose situation.”

Dabb said when she worked for the Union and the National Lacrosse League, she never approved disabling comments altogether, although they were frequently monitored and removed. 

“We do have folks that monitor the comments,” Dabb said. “If there’s foul language, those comments are obviously deleted.”

Teams with similar records across the country have not disabled comments on their posts.

The Iowa State University men’s basketball team is starting their season 2-18, but commenting on their posts remains intact. The same applies for Fordham University (2-11) and DePaul University (4-12). 

Gifford acknowledged that teams like Iowa State and Fordham could be selectively deleting comments as a middle ground.

“If you feel the need later to go back and delete it so that it’s not loaded with that, then go for it,” Gifford said. “But the thought of just completely disabling the function when it doesn’t seem like other schools are doing that just seemed a little thin.”


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  • D

    Daniel KeeneyJul 20, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    I’m certain Brenan Prunty is a great guy and worthy of attention on PR matters, but he is with DKC Public Relations, not DPK Public Relations.

    • T

      The HawkAug 24, 2021 at 2:59 pm

      Thank you for your comment. We have corrected the error.