UNL athletes tripped up by online exploits
One of the early allures of the Internet was the chance to assume a new identity and inhabit a fantasy world.
But, while role-playing games continue to be popular on the Web, the barrier between that innocent virtual world and the harsh, dangerous physical world was broken long ago.
Each televised predator sting and law enforcement news release brings a reminder that one can get in big trouble on the Internet.
The latest casualties are two University of Nebraska-Lincoln wrestlers who were kicked off the team for appearing naked or partially clothed on a gay porn site.
Technically, Paul Donahoe and Kenny Jordan were dismissed from the team because they violated a NCAA rule prohibiting athletes from appearing in pictures for commercial use.
It wasn't that they didn't know what they were doing. They were well paid, according to the operator of the site, who described their compensation as "better than beer money."
Neither, apparently, was it that they were innocent before the Web site incident; both had previous run-ins with the Lincoln police over issues like underage drinking, trespassing, assault, maintaining an disorderly house and having an open alcohol container in a vehicle.
Now, if they want to continue their wrestling career, both athletes will have to apply to the NCAA for reinstatement. We doubt the porn site pay was enough to compensate for the loss of a college degree.
More than one student or adult has found themselves forced to answer for something carelessly posted on a social networking site, fired from a job or denied one because of something that appeared online.
An extreme case, perhaps, but the case of the Cornhusker wrestlers should be a reminder for us all, especially high school and college students, to be careful where we leave our electronic fingerprints.