A university is apologizing for a social media post that many interpreted as an insensitive reference to a tragic incident in the history of a rival school.
On Thursday, the University of Central Florida clobbered Kent State University in a college football game. At one point, UCF’s social media posted a picture of UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee on a sideline phone with the caption “SOMEONE CALL THE NATIONAL GUARD.”
— New York Post (@nypost) September 4, 2023
The since-deleted post was meant to be a reference to the famous 1996 game between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. At one point during that game, in which the Broncos destroyed the Patriots, Broncos player Shannon Sharpe grabbed a sideline phone and pretended he was talking to the president, telling him to send the National Guard out because they were “killing” the Patriots.
Unfortunately, not everyone got the joke, and some interpreted it as an insensitive reference to a tragedy that happened at Kent State over fifty years ago.
In 1970, the Ohio National Guard was called to Kent State to deal with students protesting the Vietnam War. The guardsmen ended up firing into the crowd of protesters killing four unarmed students and injuring nine.
The horrific events spawned even more protests and further hardened the resolve of many people against the continuation of the war.
To this day, the Kent State shooting is seen as one of the defining moments in one of the most troubled periods in the history of the United States, and naturally, the ghosts of that incident still hang over the school today.
The University of Central Florida appeared to have either been ignorant of or had forgotten Kent State’s tragic history with the National Guard. When they realized what they had done, UCF deleted the post and apologized to Kent State.
In a statement made to USA Today, UCF clarified what the post had meant and made another apology to Kent State.
“As soon as our staff was made aware of the unintended reference to the unfortunate event that took place at Kent State in 1970, the post was removed. It was addressed with our staff immediately, and updated protocols have been put in place to avoid a situation like this in the future,” the statement read.
Frankly, this seems like it was genuinely an honest mistake from UCF. It does not appear as if they were trying to make fun of Kent State’s traumatic history but rather engage in a friendly round of sports-related banter.
That being said, UCF’s social media team probably should have known better.
What is also remarkable about this is the level of maturity demonstrated by both UCF and Kent State. The University of Central Florida recognized that it made a mistake, admitted it, apologized, and took real steps to ensure it does not happen again.
Kent State, for its part, accepted the apology and did not make a bigger deal out of it than it needed to be.
It is really refreshing to see an issue like this be resolved in such a way. In our modern cancel culture, people’s reputations can be ruined for the tiniest mistake since people are too often unwilling to forgive.
But not in this case. Here, both schools addressed the issue appropriately, and there appears to be no bad blood between them.
This story also serves as an obvious reminder to think about what you post on social media before you post it.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.