Twitter has made a wonderful contribution to the sports community. It not only allows for instant dispersal of news but helps fans to easily connect and discuss content with each other and even with sports personnel. That often works out great for the fans, but having a 24 hour a day microphone with an audience in the thousands can be a problem. Take for example a message on Twitter in which Red Sox owner John Henry blasted the Marlins. The message from the Red Sox owner was just the latest illadvised tweet sent out by a sports figure. Henry was responding to complaints by the Marlins staff about the Red Sox only playing one everyday player during a Spring Training outing.
Henry wasn’t necessarily wrong to be irked by the Marlins complaints being that the games don’t count, but there are probably much more direct and adult ways to deal with issues between teams than in a public forum. For what it’s worth, Henry doesn’t seem to be especially prolific on twitter and it was more of a one time slip. Jim Irsay on the other hand tweets with the regularity–and legibility–of a preteen, often crossing the line that divides playfulness and weirdness, tweeting out a text-speak message with a selfie attached in anticipation of a Colts regular season game.
It should be noted that the owners are not the only ones wreaking havoc on Twitter. Plenty of coaches, managers, and athletes have found themselves in hot water over things they have written online, such as when Gilbert Arenas began live-tweeting a blind date. After several messages, and probably bored because Arenas could not help but spend so much time on his phone, the date went to the bathroom and returned angry. Her friend had told her what Arenas had been saying about her, all while sitting across from her at a dinner table. Arenas also later got into a feud online with a comedian, which results in the temporary demise of @AgentZero, because it is easier to disappear for awhile than admit when one is wrong.
To give Arenas at least a partial excuse, he has spent much of the time around his basketball career trying to entertain his fans. The real trouble comes when athletes let their politics or personal beliefs bleed onto the internet, where thousands or millions can dissect and reinterpret, leaving behind a trail of excuses a mile long.
Pro golfer Steve Elkington let loose an embarrassing rant about gay Missouri football star Michael Sam, culminating in a joke so stupid it probably doesn’t even count as stereotyping. Elkington was hardly the only person to make classless and bigoted statements or jokes about Sam during an impressive moment, but when these things come from people with an avenue to speak to many it is especially troubling. Rashard Mendenhall’s various tweets about 9/11 come to mind, in which he claimed he was unsure if Osama Bin Laden was involved at all, and implied perhaps the United States government was behind the attacks.
Beyond the dangerous tweets involving bigotry and stupidity are the much more typical embarrassing posts, such as when Devon Bess tweeted a picture of himself completely naked (photo has been cropped).
This is something that happens way more than it should, though at least Bess did so intentionally, unlike Chris Cooley accidentally posting naked pictures of himself on his blog, Pat McAfee accidentally tweeting a picture of Andrew Luck naked in the locker room, and Brandon Marshall doing the same to a teammate of his.
The Red Sox owner probably doesn’t seem so bad in comparison, though picking on the Marlins via a tweet still seems childish and illadvised. While things like that are entertaining, it often results in the person withdrawing from their social media life, at least temporarily. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like have all been a great resource for fans to connect, so while embarrassing tweets are fun I think most fans would settle on having a taste of their favorite athlete’s personality.
Commentary by Brian Moore