Canada loses tennis player Rebecca Marino to cyber bullying

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Thanks Internet! Canada lost a pretty good tennis player today because of you. Rebecca Marino has decided to retire from tennis citing various reasons including her mental health and motivation. However, a big part of her decision was due to the large number of tweets and internet comments disparaging her and her performance as a player.

Marino, who is 22 and hails from Vancouver had been receiving an overwhelming amount of negative tweets following poor performances on the court. She also found that there were many comments on forums, blogs, and websites criticizing her playing ability.

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Marino admits that she was curious about what was being said about her across the web when she searched herself on Google. “I’m quite nosy, so I’ll look it up. And then I’ll realize I shouldn’t have looked it up.” What she came across was more than she could handle, stating, “Things were being written about me, and I’m quite sensitive about that”.

She said the insults and comments affected her so much that she became even more depressed and her playing suffered. Marino was ranked as high as 38 in the world according to the Women’s Tennis Association before she retired. She previously retired a year ago for the same reasons. Recently she was knocked out in the first round of the Memphis tour by a much lower ranked Alexa Glatch. After this match she began to receive comments through Twitter encouraging her to give up and even to kill herself since she was so worthless.

Once her announcement was made, tennis enthusiasts across the web debated over whether she was being cyber bullied or that she simply couldn’t take the heat that comes with being a celebrity. Supporters argued that Rebecca was being bullied and that anyone who told her to go and die should be charged with uttering death threats. Critics on the other side thinks she brought it upon herself when she opened a twitter account and exposed herself to the potential insults that could come her way.

Twitter has traditionally been used as platform for airing the internet’s rage. Celebrities, athletes, and anyone who thinks they are important have been involved in tweeting wars since Twitter started. For an example of the raging debate about Marino see this forum. Tennis Canada had warned Marino about opening up a Twitter account, knowing full well how much hatred could spew out at her should she choose to go that route

While it’s easy to sympathize with Marino, you have to wonder whether she is the author of her own downward spiral. Marino has revealed throughout the years that she suffers from depression. As such a person who suffers from a fragile mental state should not expose herself to a world where anything goes, and that world is the internet.

There are multitudes of stars and athletes who go through the same thing everyday, so Marino is no different here. Just ask Chris Bosh, whose wife was recently outed by the midget rapper Lil’ Wayne for having sexual relations with the rap star. Imagine the tweets Bosh is getting right now.

So the question is does Marino deserve all this treatment and does it constitute cyber bullying when players are verbally criticized over the internet?

The answer is just as elusive since there are things Marino could do that would immediately stop her problem. For one, she could simply focus on her tennis and decide to stay away from Twitter and Google. She could grow a thicker skin since she is not the only one that experiences this. There are many other women’s tennis player that receive insulting remarks and criticism, probably even more so than Marino. Jelena Jankovic for example is another tennis player who is constantly criticized for her poor play by gamblers everywhere. If Marino completely focuses on her tennis and starts to do well, she will find that the internet would be full of praise on her play.

The ones who tweet negative comments when she loses are simply bitter that they have lost their money by betting on her. Internet rage is mostly just that. It’s on the internet and stays there. Any perceived threats she receives are just angry words from a gambler who wants to vent. Any gambler who feels the need to attack whether verbally or physically when they lose just should not be gambling at all. However that has not stopped them from releasing their sour grapes upon the internet. Just to prove that it’s not just Rebecca Marino who gets this treatment, see this wonderful thread about Andre Iguodala of the Denver Nuggets.

Women’s tennis is very hard to gamble on because breaks of serve and mental meltdowns are very common. A gambler expects things to be consistent. When a gambler decides to bet on women’s tennis, it becomes a futile exercise because unpredictability is the hallmark of women’s tennis. See our article on how to bet women’s tennis for a summary of this.

The problem with censoring what people say is that we start losing our freedom to say anything. If Marino is really being threatened, then anyone dumb enough to post a threat on Twitter will probably be tracked down and arrested. As hard as it is to say, when someone tweets that you should go and die just because you lost a game, that person should not have to face prosecution for either bullying or threatening a life. It does not constitute a threat or a hate crime. It is simply a vulgar opinion.

Rebecca Marino is a great player who has a super serve. She simply needs to work on her game more as women’s tennis is full of players just like her. To be at the top you’d have to be physically imposing and very talented as the likes of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. There are also top players who aren’t physically gifted but have used their hard work and experience to their advantage such as Agnieska Radwanska or Justine Henin.

Marino is a Canadian playing amongst a group of top international players. Therefore she has much work to do to be at the top or wherever she wants to get to, but we can’t help thinking she is using the negativity of the internet as an excuse for her retirement.

It takes a special kind of person to want to be a star and to deal with all the limelight and negativity that comes with it. Rebecca Marino can turn off the negativity any time she wants to and focus on the court. She just simply chooses to do neither. She will be missed.

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