Monday, May 28, 2007

Troubling Aspect of the Internet Affects Teen Track Star

I've been purposefully avoiding writing a post about the Allison Stokke story, hoping it would die down and go away. But, since the story has snowballed into frontpage news, I feel compelled – as a gentleman and a father – to defend her honor.

Yes, the internet is called the New Wild West for good reason. Society is less polite in general in 2007, and even less so under the guise of anonymity that can be so easily obtained on the internet. If you've ever been the victim of a chat-room, newsgroup or message board Troll, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Blog Trolls are a particularly depraved sub-species. But trolls aren't the only nasty creatures online. Internet predators are all-too-common. The popularity of the NBC show To Catch a Predator can attest to that.

Allison Stokke is getting a taste of this disturbing aspect of virtual freedom. What can be done about it? Apparently not much, although I'd like for us to try and do our parts. I can't help wonder how this sudden glaring spotlight is going to affect her pole-vaulting career at the University of California-Berkeley and how it's affecting her well-being in general.

I urge all readers of Finish Line Pundit to help stop the cruel, thoughtless, mean-spirited internet campaign that seeks to objectify a fine young athlete who doesn't deserve the kind of attention she is getting. Don't surf for her picture, don't frequent the blogs who are capitalizing on her misery, and – if you receive e-mails from people who want to propagate this sick, demeaning behavior toward her – tell them to cease and desist immediately. Allison Stokke deserves much better than this kind of sorry, sick attention. So does the sport of track and field. Let's just leave her be.

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