Online, people hide behind a protective barrier that allows them to say things that might be found offensive or rude that most wouldn't say in person. Courtenay Dempsey was attacked in an online post that made a racist comment about him. While many comments go unnoticed, Dempsey did manage to read this one and he isn't happy about it.
The Essendon defender is furious with the comment that posted onto an Instagram photo that Dempsey had posted online. The comment was later deleted after it had gained quite a bit of attention, but that doesn't mean the damage wasn't dealt. Victorian police have even stepped up and told Dempsey that they would stand by him if he decided to pursue legal action against the harassing comment. As of now, Dempsey has not announced whether or not he will take up this offer, but he has not submitted a police report.
“My family and I are deeply upset,” Dempsey told reporters when questioned about the comment. “People need to understand players are human and we have feelings. There is no place for racism in our society and in our game. This shouldn't be happening in this day and age.”
Cyber bullying is considered a serious crime in Victoria and can be punished as a criminal offense. Posting an offensive and racial comment online is just as bad as saying it in person, and the comment can result in prosecution. There is zero tolerance for racial belligerence.
Courtenay Dempsey isn't the only person that has been targeted with hate recently. About a month ago, Adam Goodes had to take a few days out of the game due to persistent booing coming from the fans during his matches.
Dempsey's own abuse follows a sling tackle he made against player Brett Deledio during Saturday's match at the MCG. The tackle caused an injury to Deledio that resulted in him being pulled from the field and Dempsey being slapped with a referral to the tribunal on Tuesday.
While it's fair to criticize players for their game play, characteristics such as sexual orientation, race, and religion should be kept out of it. The man that spewed hatred towards Courtenay had been angry by the tackle and was showing it in a malicious post. However, when race got brought into the comment it took things a step too far.
“It's all very well to hide behind social media, but the pain of a comment like that lasts long after it has been deleted. I felt I needed to take a stand. It's important for people to understand that their actions have consequences,” Dempsey explained as he tried to show why it was such a big deal. “As players we can accept feedback after we've had a poor game; it comes with the territory. We shouldn't, and won't, tolerate abuse that attacks our race, sexuality, or mental health.”
It's common for these types of messages to pop up on posts made by those in the sports scene. People get angered by certain plays and mistakes that cost team points, but it's important to realize that these comments are read by real people. Things will happen and fans won't always be satisfied, but taking that out in a hatred-spewing comment is no way to vent.