Athletics

Athletics

OAKLAND -- A few weeks ago, after a rare poor outing, A's reliever Liam Hendriks did something he hardly ever does. He went on social media and checked his mentions.
 
As he expected, the comments weren't pretty -- everything from generic insults and taunts to wishes for injury, ill will toward his family, and even death threats. Hendriks chose to share a couple of these messages on his Instagram story in order to make a point.
 
"I stayed off social media for years," he said. "This is the first year I've had social media. That was by choice and for a reason because of the cyberbullying that goes on. It's something that affects everybody, not just kids at school."
 
That's something Hendriks wants to make clear, especially for the many children who are victims of bullying.
 
"I want them to know that they're not alone, that this doesn't just happen to them," he explained. "No matter who you are, you're going to get those people who are out there just to hate. ... It's an issue that affects everybody, especially with how much kids are on social media these days."
 
This year, Hendriks and his wife Kristi decided to fight back against cyberbullying, an issue that has affected both of them personally. Kristi runs an online clothing store and has faced harassment, particularly when people find out who she is.
 
"We've wanted to do something," Hendriks said. "We've always spoken out against cyberbullying, but I think this year was one where we really decided to focus on it. It's something that has affected both my wife and me, and we decided to take a stand against it and do what we can to try to prevent the cause."
 
Hendriks has teamed up with Major League Baseball's Shred Hate campaign, which seeks to "eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness." ESPN and X Games are also involved with Shred Hate.
 
"MLB's mission with Shred Hate is huge because it shows kids that all of these athletes are behind you," Hendriks said. "They get the same thing. It doesn't matter what someone says online. It just matters who you are."
 
Last year, Kristi and Liam Hendriks participated in Canada's Pink Shirt Day, which aimed to get Canadians to stand up against bullying. Hendriks even got several of his A's teammates to join him.
 
Hendriks says he and his wife would like to be even more active in the community moving forward. They hope to speak at schools about cyberbullying.
 
"That's definitely our plan, to try to speak to groups and just go over the fact that they're not alone. If they need an ear, just shoot me a message."