Lessons Learned from Panama City Beach Incident


Nov 8, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Damian Williams (11) passing against the UT Martin Skyhawks during the fourth quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

As you know by now, current Mississippi State football players Dak Prescott, Damian Williams and Torrey Dale were attacked at Panama City Beach on Monday while on spring break.  Here are five things we can learn from this unfortunate event…

1. There is no reason to jump someone when you out-number them 10-1 

I don’t know what the exact ratio was, but in some instances from the video it appeared that Torrey Dale was being attacked by 8-10 people. He laid there unconscious while Dak Prescott was being kicked in the head.

I don’t know how all this started. But it doesn’t matter. You can’t pick fights with people when you outnumber them 3-1, 5-1, 10-1 or whatever. It’s not a fair fight. Maybe Prescott, Dale and Williams were walking away because they were outnumbered, maybe it was because they didn’t want any part of it. Either way it doesn’t matter.

Regardless of what was said, this was a dangerous and violent attack, and no amount of verbal confrontation should have led to it. This type of thing is what leads to deaths you hear about on the news. Fortunately MSU’s players walked away, but it could have been much worse.

2. Nothing good happens at spring break

This applies to everyone. It’s like the saying “nothing good happens after midnight”. It’s true here – there is no reason to go to spring break at the beach.

What happens when you mix testosterone, alcohol and a full day of hot sunshine?

  • Women are abused
  • Men start fighting

80% of spring breakers at the beach are male, because boys like to drink like fish and party hard. It’s a situation I dread my daughter being within 10 miles of in the future. These are 18-22 year old boys with one thing on their mind – and if it’s not there for them to get they may start getting violent.

99% of all spring breakers just go down to the beach and are subdued apart from the “yahoo!” they yell while riding down the strip. But when you throw 100,000 people on a beach that 1% is a large enough percentage to cause trouble that could end up scaring people for life – be it male or female.

3. There is a price to pay for fame

College football players on the big stage are famous. Dak Prescott’s face was plastered all over ESPN last fall and that leads to fame…without the fortune, as it is with NCAA athletics. So he still wants to be a college kid and do things with his buddies because that’s all he really is, but in the eyes of the world he is a famous athlete.

It’s an unfortunate predicament a handful of college athletes find themselves in. Most folks are just happy to meet Dak, but others are jealous – especially those with his same demographics. That can lead to situations like we saw this week, where there are people who want to be the one to brag about how they beat up ____.  

4. There is no secrecy anymore

I for one do not believe we have a culture prone to violence in this day in age. In fact, I think a greater percentage of people today are willing to walk away from confrontations than say 50 years ago.

What we do have is a video camera on our phone with facebook, twitter and 800 TV channels to share our findings. If something is happening, someone took a picture. Information moves fast and is shared at a greater rate than at any point in history, which leads to people believing our culture is falling apart. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but you have to recognize that part of it.

And you also have to recognize before you engage in any activity – be it eating birthday cake to stealing a Snickers bar, there’s a pretty good chance someone took a picture and is ready and willing to share it.

5. Everyone needs to take social media with a grain of salt

I’ve heard several comments about people’s crazy reactions on social media to this incident. Stuff like, “I’m going down to PCB to find justice” or “they got what they deserved”. There are a couple things to remember here:

  1. Social media happens in real time
  2. People often post what they would do in a fantasy world, not the real world

I am a big advocate of not being a prisoner of the moment. Just ask our staff – it’s my one rule for using our twitter accounts. So I like to take a breath before I run my mouth. That’s not the case with 95% of folks on social media (when they post). Usually it’s the first thought that comes to their heads, and usually it’s not well thought out.

When someone says they would like to go down to the beach and find those guys, I’m not taking them seriously. That’s what you want to do because you’re sitting at McDonald’s eating a quarter-pounder and playing on your phone. But really, since no one is going to hold you to that statement, you’re just going to finish your meal, use the restroom, get in your car and go back to work where you will not give it another thought for the rest of the day.