COMMENT:

Something has clearly gone wrong when members of an athlete's family begin removing jerseys bearing his name in the middle of a game.

That was the fate that this week befell Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader and his clan, though for reasons that will quickly become clear I should perhaps use a different synonym for "family".

Hader, 24, was at the time pitching in his first MLB All-Star Game, what should have been a career highlight. Instead, with many supporters watching on from the stands, the occasion soon became a nightmare entirely of his own making.

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Well, technically of his 17-year-old self's making. As Hader threw down 95mph (153km/h) fastballs, intrepid internet sleuths did what many have done before: they searched his old tweets.

Something of an unfortunate rite of passage for a young sporting star, randoms online have on numerous occasions uncovered past sins committed on social media by newly-famous athletes.

And in Hader, they hit pay dirt, with added emphasis on the dirt.

There was no shortage of n-words employed by the gangly white teenager. There was a raised fist emoji followed by "white power lol", because hate speech, clearly, is highly amusing.

There was the loathsomely succinct "I hate gay people". And there were repeated disparaging references to hoes, with one fan pointing out Hader was "really bout the gardening equipment".

A PR storm immediately erupted to engulf what was supposed to be a showpiece night in the baseball season and, after the game, MLB rather pathetically announced Hader would receive no punishment beyond some token sensitivity training.

But I'm not here to pass judgment on Hader's indiscretions, which are indisputably awful even if they were committed seven years previously.

I'm here to echo the thoughts of Lorenzo Cain, a black team-mate of Hader's who after the game offered invaluable advice to young athletes everywhere.

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"I'm just trying to understand the situation," Cain said. "You know, he's young, we all say crazy stuff when we're young. That's one of the reasons I don't have social media, things like this. You always get in trouble for things you said when you were young."

Cain's lesson can be captured in two words: never tweet.

Social media offers athletes plenty of positives. A way to truly connect with their fans, a medium with which to cut out the pesky media middle man. But the bad for many will always outweigh the good.

In addition to the ubiquitous trolls, sometimes, as Hader was merely the latest to discover, young athletes can be their own worst enemies.

Their careers can be marred before their brains are fully developed, especially if they're racist, homophobic assholes.

The internet, after all, is forever. And age is no excuse. How Hader can continue to look into the eyes of some team-mates remains a mystery.

You can bet on Jodie Barrett
Hurricanes utility Jordie Barrett's decision to accept only a one-year contract extension from New Zealand Rugby should be one followed by any peer with a similar level of power.

Rather than being locked into a long-term deal that valued Barrett as the player he is now, the 21-year-old assessed what he would be worth in the future and bet on himself.

It is, undoubtedly, a gamble. Serious injury or — unlikely in Barrett's case — a sustained loss of form could render foolish a move to turn down guaranteed money.

Some will be in different situations in life, requiring the financial reward of a contract and unwilling to assume the risk for an extra zero or two being added to a theoretical deal down the line.

But for a player in Barrett's bargaining position, it's a bold call and one that will almost certainly, literally, pay off.

By the time Barrett does look to lock himself into New Zealand rugby, after the 2019 World Cup, personal progression and the departure of others will surely leave him one of the sport's most valuable prospects.

At which point he will deserve to be paid like one, not like the athlete he was three years before.

Anyone who watches sport should be rooting for players to be paid as much as possible.

What's the alternative, the cash being locked away in the coffers of a soulless franchise or corporation? No dollar figure is too high; avarice is an irrelevant concept.

Barrett showed his canniness extended beyond that boasted by his right boot and offered an example to all young athletes.