Social media post causes controversy on Tech's 'Celebrate Cotton

Texas Tech refutes viral posts; Agriculture Game to celebrate many crops, including cotton

Posted: Updated:
LUBBOCK, Texas -

For years, Texas Tech has celebrated and honored the cotton industry during one of its home games. This summer the athletic department decided to focus not just on fiber, but the whole Ag industry on the South Plains and across the region.

A widely spread social media post disputed the facts, claiming responsibility for the decision. It all started with a thread of Facebook comments. The post claimed a woman complained to the Texas Tech System board of regents about the Celebrate Cotton game. The post stated the woman said the game was an insult to black people.

The post claimed this complaint led the board to rename the 'White Out' game. The original post has since been deleted and it appears the account has either been hidden or removed. A few other posts remain, suggesting similar action.

Senior Associate Athletics Director Robert Giovannetti said the board of regents does not handle marketing and game themes.

"It doesn't reach that level. It doesn't even reach the level of athletic director," Giovannetti said.  "It is something we do as a marketing and fan engagement unit, we put out a press release sometime in July when we announced our single game ticket sales where we announced that the game on September 7th would be the Texas Tech agriculture game."

FOX34, like the many media outlets that cover Tech, received an e-mail July 17 announcing the Agriculture Game. This is several weeks before one of the social media posts claimed regents made a decision.

Giovannetti said this makes the posts' claims false and inaccurate. The new theme is intended to include all sectors of this region's vital agriculture industry. The September 7 home game against UTEP will serve as the Agriculture Game, along with cotton, beef, and dairy. It'll also white out Jones Stadium for Tech's upcoming vet school in Amarillo.

Lisa Low is an assistant professor of practice in Texas Tech's College of Media and Communications. She specializes in social media.

Low says before sharing any post, verify the source and understand the motive behind it. 

"You know, a lot of it tends to be hot-button issues," Low said. "We are very polarized on social media right now and anything that feeds into we call it confirmation bias. You see something that resinates with you, you are more willing to hit the share button quickly." 

Low says posting false information can have severe consequences, depending on the subject. 

"You see people getting terminated because they shared something that was false, or derogatory or misleading or defaming. You see that kind of thing you also see some public shaming." 

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