Things get out of hand quickly on the internet--and tend to burn out just as fast--which is how we can somehow go from this remark from Debbie Yow ...
NC State AD Yow: "you’ve failed athletes [in financial responsibility] when you see them on hoverboards. Bill Battle: "Or tattoos and rims."
— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) December 9, 2015
... to a harrumphy COLUMN COLUMN that includes a picture of Yow photoshopped to include a mini-devil Donald Trump sitting on her shoulder. How did we ... I mean, what? It's barely been a day since Yow's remarks at an athletics forum in New York, and we've already hit an uncharted level of knee-jerk outrage.
Criticism of Yow's remarks is fine--and warranted--but criticism in these situations almost inevitably ends up warped as more time passes. Warped to a point where you have someone, with a straight face, talking about a person's "inner Trump," implying that Yow's remark was a calculated move to say something unpopular and garner attention.
Is Yow's opinion wrong? I think so, yeah. It's not a failure on anyone's part if somebody uses their own money to buy something they want. She's also not talking about controlling anybody's stipend spending, either, so what exactly is the problem? She'd like the athletes to spend their money wisely, maybe save a little of it up, and that's fine. She cares. That's good. Was this articulated well? Not at all.
It's possible to talk about this like adults! Or we could just photoshop Donald Trump into some shit, and write things like this:
Yow, being a woman of a certain age, probably spends a little of her 690k on Botox and Louboutins, or at least that is what I frivolously spend my extra cash on. Men of a certain age tend to spend money on Viagra and sports cars, judging by who advertises during sporting events. Is this unfair to Yow and Battle? Sexist? Ageist? No, it is doing to them what they did to the athletes. So has the system failed them? Or is frivolity OK on items we covet?
Yow and Battle are in significantly different financial conditions than college athletes. Should probably note that. The assumptions here are a fine piece of irony-stabbing nonsense. This is a mess.
Setting aside that column, the bigger thing worth noting is that these "hoverboard" dealios (which sound way cooler than they look) only run a few hundred bucks. NC State's cost-of-attendance stipend is $2,700, and that stipend is much higher in some other places. It just ain't a big deal. Let the dudes have their whirlymagigs or XBoxits (or--hide the children--some tattoos!). And let's give them a little credit, okay? Many have family to help provide for, and I doubt the necessity of that is lost on them.
Yow shouldn't dwell on a bit of harmless recreational spending; I think that's missing the point. She was wrong for that. She also didn't deserve this treatment. This is how it works on the internet, though, or rather, how it apparently must work. This has evolved into a weird non-controversy that resulted in some bizarre photoshops. I didn't see it heading that direction, but probably should have.
The issue itself is lost in the clutter. Here I am yelling about the yelling, forgetting about what we were yelling about in the first place. This is how it all flies out of control. I am lost. By the way, don't buy a hoverboard, it's dumb.