Athletes and Social Networking

Ryan Fort

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Myspace are all social networks that athletes use to catch up with friends and family, or vent frustration. And then you have the few athletes that use it as a way to get scholarships. Having said that, social media has become a huge problem for athletes. The professionals, college level and high school level have all had athletes that got in trouble because of what they posted on social networks.

When pro athletes tweet negatively or post disturbing images on any social networking site, ESPN and other places that represent athletes jump all over it. Former NBA player Gilbert Arenas got suspended for using his fingers as pistols in photos and tweeting about an incident that involved him and one of his teammates having a gun fight. As a result the NBA investigated what was going on with him and ultimately suspended him from the league.  In cases like these, ESPN and other sports networks bash the athletes and have different articles and segments regarding their actions and social media in general. The NFL, NBA and other professional sports leagues have a rule stating that players can’t tweet  45 minutes before a game, during a game or during media sessions. And if an athlete breaks that rule they get fined by their respective league.

At the college level, social networking can still be detrimental to the athletes’ potential professional career. Every top notch college athlete has coaches, scouts and businesses watching them. For reasons like this, most college athletic programs have rules against the use of social media. Back in 2009, ex-Texas Tech coach Mike Leach banned social media after one of his players went to Twitter to voice his displeasure about something the coach did. It caused a lot of distractions and put the whole organization under the spotlight.

Most programs think that athletes get enough attention as it is and that they shouldn’t be trying to garner more. Even at the high school level there is a restraint on what you can and can’t say. In the past couple of years there have been cases where high school athletes lose their scholarships because of how they conduct themselves on social media. In 2012, high school star Yuri Wright, from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey N.J.  , got expelled from school and lost his scholarship because of sexual and racist tweets. This is a prime example of why high school athletes must pay attention to what they say or do on social media.

Social media has become a part of athletes’ everyday lives.  Having said that, all athletes should be aware of all the negative things social networking can do.  All it takes is one careless moment where an athlete does or posts something inappropriate online. That one moment could be the deciding factor in whether or not an athletic career continues going or come to an abrupt stop.