Social media has really taken over! It's in every aspect of our lives and has become a great marketing tool for many companies. Sports are really no different. In recent years, we have seen the integration of Twitter and Facebook into every nook and cranny, trying to squeeze as much face time as they possibly can, and its effects have been overwhelming. It is common knowledge that every athlete has a Twitter and Facebook account, and the ones that don't are considered out of touch. There's a lot of good that can come out of it. At the same time, things said through these mediums can have a negative effect as well.
The athlete that is most famous for his Twitter activities is Chad (Johnson) Ocho Cinco. He has gained a lot of popularity though his tweets and has brought more than a million people into his life. With these tweets came numerous endorsement deals, and even got him his own reality show. Many athletes have started using social media to better market themselves. Even prospective athletes straight out of college have used it to get noticed, and in some cases were successful in getting a deal. Twitter has also been a great way for athletes to give their own side of the story. For years they have complained the media has twisted their words and made them look like fools. In many cases that would be true, considering ESPN will do anything to get a big story out of nothing. So Twitter and Facebook have been a welcome addition for athletes who want to be able to show the fans who they really are, as opposed to the media's perception of them. But not everyone is all too happy with the integration of social media.
Honestly, Twitter is in most cases harmless. It is basically random people regurgitating useless facts in 140 characters, and for some reason people really eat it up. People tweet things like, "I ate cheerios for breakfast today, yummy," or "I wonder if I should sit on this chair, or sit on the couch." But then there have been cases where social media has been a PR nightmare for certain teams and leagues. The NFL and NBA have handed out countless fines for controversial tweets and tweets that were deemed detrimental to the team's and league's image. For instance, Kevin Love told the world that Kevin McHale would not return as the head coach of the Timberwolves a day before it was supposed to be publicly announced. There was a media frenzy to get conformation of the firing and it was a huge PR mess. Another tweet that caused some stir was Mark Cuban's tweet during the playoffs about the alleged bad officiating. He was fined 25,000 dollars for criticizing NBA officiating, and that has become a big no-no in recent years. Finally, the most recent tweet and the one that has caused the most uproar in recent years is Rashard Mendenhall's tweet after the death of Osama Bin Laden. "What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side…" He has yet to be punished for these comments, but it has caused a lot of angry comments from people. As much as I agree with him that the death of a person should not be cause for celebration, Osama caused a lot of pain to people around the world and got what he deserved. Mendenhall isn't a stranger to controversial tweets – due to the collective bargaining agreement not being reached, Mendenhall tweeted "Anyone with knowledge of the slave trade and the NFL could say that these two parallel each other."
So social media has brought a lot of advantages to players in the ways of marketing and getting their voices heard, but at the same time it has caused a lot of trouble for the leagues and teams which they represent. Facebook and Twitter is not going anywhere – it is only gaining more leverage and integrating itself into every aspect of our lives. The leagues will have to either find a better way to deal with controversial tweets or prepare for more PR headaches.