Should athletes be held accountable for their old tweets? Here's a thoughtful answer.

We've all said regrettable things, and sometimes those things come back to haunt us. Among Major League Baseball players, that's been happening a lot lately.

During June's All-Star Game in Washington, D.C., Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader became a trending topic on social media, and it didn't have anything to do with the fact that he was getting absolutely pummeled on the field.

No, it was for something else entirely: tweets he sent in his teens.


Among them were references to "white power," several uses of the n-word, and another that simply read, "I hate gay people." After the game, Hader was inundated with questions from reporters about the tweets, and by the following day, he issued an apology. Needless to say, this was probably not how the 24-year-old hoped to remember his first career All-Star Game.

Josh Hader. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

Since then, people have unearthed similarly offensive tweets from Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb and Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner.

It's starting an important conversation about how responsible people should be for things they used to believe or said in the past.

Turner's teammate Sean Doolittle decided to weigh in — where else? — on Twitter.

Doolittle and his wife, Eireann Dolan, have a long history of working with charities and supporting causes they believe in. From supporting the LGBTQ community to sharing Thanksgiving dinner with Syrian refugees, Doolittle and Dolan aren't afraid to speak up for marginalized people.

On Twitter, Doolittle tried to put this current issue in perspective, discussing his personal efforts to create a more inclusive league for players and fans.

He discouraged defenses about how long ago something was said, urging people to stay focused on the content.

At the same time, he's not calling for anybody to be shunned for something said a decade ago — because we all have the opportunity to grow as people every single day.

He also shies away from calls for athletes to stop using social media for fear that something they say will be used to attack them in the future. Instead, he calls on them to find ways to use social media to create a positive impact. If players have said things they no longer believe, Doolittle believes they should delete them as a way to show they've grown.

Some might disagree with Doolittle's assessment, and that's totally fine.

There are surely some people who see this discussion as being overblown, and there are surely some who think that these kinds of actions from the past should define the careers of the those who tweeted them.

Putting that aside, though, this is an opportunity for us to be better people in the present.

Sean Doolittle and Eireann Dolan arrive at the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington, DC. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

I asked Doolittle why he decided to speak out on this topic. He tells me that there's absolutely a personal element involved, given both that he and Dolan have always made an effort to foster inclusivity — as well as the fact that he has close friends and family who've been targeted with the same kind of language used in Hader's, Newcomb's, and Turner's old tweets, and he knows how much it can hurt.

"I didn't want to pile on, but I also didn't want to issue a free pass," he says, continuing:

"I think we have to allow for a demonstration of growth. We can't just bury these guys; this has to be a learning experience so that the next generation of athletes learns not just that it's wrong to use that kind of language, but why it's wrong to use that kind of language. Because every time it's used, even if it's used in jest, it normalizes it. The lesson shouldn't be about making sure we hide mistakes we made in our past, it should be about showing that we've grown from them."

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

The lessons here can be applied far beyond the world of baseball.

I've said a lot of things that I regret in my life. I've been mean, cruel, and hurtful with my words. It's not something I'm proud of, but it's the truth.

While I'd like to think that I've grown a lot since then, and I've tried to put in the work necessary to be the best version of myself today, there's absolutely nothing I can do to change a single one of those regretful moments. Maybe, at the very least, it shouldn't become a barrier to current and future improvement.

Growing beyond our mistakes enough to recognize them and avoid repeating them is important. If you make a mistake — whether that's telling offensive jokes, lashing out at a friend who got on your nerves, or tweeting slurs when you were young — at least try to learn from it. Empathy-fueled growth can take us a long way toward becoming better people.

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Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

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This article originally appeared on 08.09.18


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