Hubert Lawrence | Don't press 'send'
When I heard Darren Sammy's impassioned outburst at the closing ceremony for the World T20 tournament in April, it seemed clear it would be his last act not only as captain but also as a West Indies player. No sport federation would allow such an airing of dirty linen to the world without dire consequence, whether the statements were true or not.
A recent tweet by Darren Bravo falls into the same category. Like Sammy at the World T20, Bravo seemed to be angry when he wrote the Twitter statement directed at West Indies Cricket Board President Dave Cameron. Hurt by a critical performance review and a commensurate pay cut, Bravo lashed out.
Sammy's heart was full. Bravo, like many would have been, was bristling at the double impact announced by the WICB president. Even if he had complied with the order to apologise and to remove the offending Twitter statement, the damage would have been done.
Speech is instant and there's no way to re-wind and erase words once they hit the airwaves. Internet networking sites like Facebook and Twitter catapult information around the globe at breakneck speed. The traditional media and the Internet often work together to accelerate that movement of information. An impassioned plea or an angry tweet is front-page news in no time flat.
NO TURNING BACK
Once you hit the 'send' button, there's no turning back. That's why many institutions have stipulations in employee contracts that are designed to punish those who use the Internet or the media hastily or with hurtful intent.
At the same time, we love those gregarious personalities who tell it like it is. They add colour to tepid public discourse and behaviour that has been tailored by publicity agents.
The out-turn in this case is that Bravo has jump-started a process that places his international cricket career in jeopardy. Whether you think his statements were true or not, the style and content of his references to Cameron are strictly prohibited by contract. Unless something dramatic happens, his West Indies day are over.
It might all be different if his tweet had just said, 'Disappointed'. You never know.
Sammy is 32 and still young for a cricketer. However, if he never plays for the West Indies again, he has many good memories of playing for the region. He probably has done enough to be attractive to those who organise franchise-based T20 tournaments around the cricket world. At home, in St Lucia, there is a cricket stadium named after him. Bravo is only 27 and may not be quite so marketable.
For cricket fans, developments in the Bravo case will be as interesting as the recent US presidential campaign. In the meantime, young sportsmen and women can learn from what has happened. Things will happen in sport that make you mad enough to respond angrily on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat or any other mechanism you prefer. The best advice is to calm down. Wait until your pulse stops racing and when you stop seeing red. Don't you dare to press that 'send' button when you're mad.
Take a deep breath. Cool down. Count to 10 and if that doesn't work, count to 100. By then, you'll be calm enough to beat the urge to tantrum-tweet.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.