Share & Connect
Twitter is causing controversy among athletes with every passing day. In a time where two major American sporting leagues are in Lockouts, the teams really have no authority over the players and what they can say on the web.
In fact, thanks to the first amendment to the United States Constitution, they really have no right to monitor what players want to say at all and yet we see hefty fines given all the time. Are these penalties fair? Should teams have control over what their players can and can not say on their own time? We may see a change in how these situations are approached in the near future.
Twitter is a great way for athletes to connect with their fans on a personal basis, which is something many generations of sports lovers were unable to achieve until now.
Unfortunately, these sports stars are not held to the same social standards as the everyday tweeter. It seems to be the price to pay that if you want to be famous, you also have to accept the fact that you will be scrutinized in every public aspect of your life. The keyword there is public.
Some athletes don’t seem to understand where to draw the line between public and private thoughts, and thus some of their more infamous tweets have landed them in hot water.
Let’s take it back to the beginning. Charlie Villanueva was one of the first NBA stars to join twitter. It soon spiraled into an obsession. During halftime of a Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics game, the famous “@CV31” tweeted, “In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt. We’re playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up.”
Players tweeting during games is going way too far. Unfortunately, as I said, this was only the beginning.
Later that year, Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith was questioned for having association with the famous Bloods street gang for using some controversial language in his tweets.
In May, while much of the world was debating over the death of Osama Bin Laden, some athletes decided it would be wise for them to chime in. Not the best idea.
Without throwing these guys under the bus (although their twitter names are easy enough to find) guys like Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Douglas-Roberts decided to speak out on the matter, leading to a ton of flac from the sports community.
Mendenhall lost a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with Champion thanks to his brutal honesty.
I do respect the fact that everybody has their own opinion. I also respect the fact that everyone should have the same right to speak in a public forum such as the internet. If this were not true, it would violate everything the United States stands for. I almost feel bad for these athletes that take so much heat for saying how they feel.
Now that I got my disclaimer out of the way, I have to be completely honest. People, athletes specifically, but people in general, should probable realize when certain words will get them into trouble. Maybe every popular athlete in this day and age needs a publicist. Maybe they just shouldn’t be on twitter at all, but it’s a bit late for that. In all honesty, if they would just read over every tweet before they send it out and ask themselves “what is everybody going to think about this?” they probably wouldn’t be feeling such repercussions.
Lately, rumors have been that teams will soon put some kind of general rules into place regarding social media. This would probably be a wise idea if not for the fact that the leagues will be walking a fine line between saving their organization from embarrassment, and taking away the constitutional rights of their players.
In the end, I just have a few sentences to say to the troubled tweeters.
I understand that you want to connect with us. You want to be able to show who you really are as opposed to those twenty second media clips we see after games. You want to be able to reach out to the people that come out and watch you play and cheer you on. I get that, and I couldn’t support you more.
I just please ask you to do one thing and one thing only before you reach out to us:
The fans, the media, journalists, kids, parents, your endorsers, your team officials…well you get the point.