Mike Henriksen is an idiot! Mike Henriksen is the greatest! Mike Henriksen has no idea what he is talking about. Mike Henriksen sure is knowledgeable.

In this age of internet reader boards, I have heard it all. Hundreds of people, under the anonymity of log in names, have shared their opinion of me for all of the world to see. The good news is I have a thick enough skin, a healthy self-esteem, and enough humility to know that the actual truth regarding the way I do my job is somewhere in the middle of what everyone may be saying.

The problem is that it seems that no topic is off limits for internet posters. Family issues? Minor’s involved with a law infraction? A person about to lose their job? No problem! It all seems to be fair game for people to share every thought, rumor, and innuendo with no possible chance at repercussions! If you make up clever user name, you can suddenly sound like an expert, even though your usual biggest sighting of a source for your information is “I heard…”. Write whatever you wish, because you suddenly have a new sense of power. Heck, you could be a 50 year old adult and pretend you are a high school kid. You could be a college student pretending to be an opposing coach. It does not matter, and you are off scott-free.

I know that some will say that the conversations that take place on the internet are no different than the chats that happen daily at coffee shops and bars across South Dakota. Here is the fallacy of that argument: I know who you are when we are talking at those places. People judge other people based on what they say. If you make a statement to my face that is racist, slanderous, or just plain stupid, my opinion of you will drop considerably. I may not sit at the same table as you the next time, and I will certainly gauge any other statements you make in the future based on what I have heard from you in the past. That is the way it works in everyday life. It is one of the reasons we, in general, keep a civil tongue, and try not to offend others when we are in public.

Of course, on the internet, those rules of civility no longer apply. I can say what I want when I want about whomever I want because you can’t see me and your judgment of me will have no bearing on me whatsoever! Trash a 16 year old? No problem! Question a coach? Got that covered! Make comments about Native teams or a minority player? Just the usual fare for some posters. As a matter of fact, some posters can denigrate an entire wing of the Christian faith, call into question the sexuality of a star player, and accuse people in authority of all sorts of illegal acts in a single 5 minute session at the keyboard!

What about you? Have any of the posts you have made ever fallen into any of these categories? If so, why? Did it really make you feel better or build your self-esteem? I would certainly hope not. Just remember, the next topic on the message board may be about your teammate, your family member, or even you. Imagine how you would like that conversation to go.