When West Virginia safety Kerry Martin revealed his feelings about Mountaineer defensive coordinator Vic Koenning on social media, most comments on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram articles supported Koenning and vilified Martin.
Martin, a 20 year old young man from Charleston, West Virginia, was called everything from a crybaby to uneducated. A player that West Virginia fans cheer for on Saturdays was suddenly in the spotlight for pointing out what he and his teammates feel is mistreatment by a member of the coaching staff.
While it can be debated whether this situation could have been handled in a better way or not, what can’t be debated is a college athlete’s right to speak his or her mind on social media. Players should be free to do and say as they wish without worrying about a large portion of the fanbase turning their backs on them.
In fact, it takes an enormous amount of bravery to speak up. Kerry Martin is not a baby or entitled, and he’s certainly not the villain in this situation. He’s a brave young man speaking up for himself and his teammates.
While this situation certainly isn’t great for the program in the short term, it is an absolutely important step in the right direction in the long run. Players are not the property of the school or coaches, and there should be no restraints on their freedom to express themselves.
Mountaineer fans don’t like change and they don’t like the university being viewed in any way but glowingly. A large portion of our fanbase believes that a coach should get away with unfair, unjust treatment of players and that the players should simply shut up and play. However, that’s not the world we live in. Players are human beings, they have thoughts and feelings, and they should be able to express them freely. It’s our responsibility as fans of these young men to show support them as individuals and not just as players on the field on game days.