Athletes Should Not Use Social Media

Professional sports is almost like steel. Many things that happen in the world don’t effect athletes the way they would in the regular world. Athletes are held to a higher standard in the societal hierarchy. Athletes are regarded highly because of their ability to throw a football, shoot a basketball, hit a baseball, or shoot a puck on a nightly basis.

Many athletes have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. Unfortunately, so many athletes get in trouble for not understanding the strength and influence of their message, especially when talking about their personal lives. As die hard sports fans here at Zipper, we would just rather see teams or social media marketers handling the Twitter and Instagram accounts of athletes.

We look to athletes to be role models, especially because of the parental situations that take place in the world now, and with so many kids playing all kinds of sports. Athletes are seen on ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC, and every other major TV, online, and radio outlet. They are praised for their work because the kids want to emulate the “heroes” they watch or have posters of.

Should athletes be allowed to live a personal life? Absolutely. We think that’s all the more reason why they should not be involved in the social media space! We are an invasive society by nature, we love to know details about who is dating whom, who is not happy with their contract, who is fighting with a teammate, and basically anything else that would go over well on TMZ. You quickly realize that the athletes who our children, and even we, as adults, look up to, are not always as friendly as we would like, and sometimes, are completely not who we thought they would be.

The social media problem for athletes really goes all the way down to middle school and high school. Every year, ESPN always has coverage of national high school signing day, which is a TV event on ESPNU where all day, players are having major announcements in football and basketball of where they are going to school the following season. Some players have decided to take to Twitter and Instagram to make the announcement and say whatever else to friends and family, sometimes forgetting that the entire free world is going to follow a high-rated recruit—or even a kid who is a big star in a small town. Fans invest incredibly heavily in teams and players, so when the high school player doesn’t select their school, they will go on Twitter and other outlets and tweet all kinds of terrible things directly to them—a kid. Just because he or she made a choice that anyone else has the option to make. They didn’t make the decision they wanted and they get tough behind a keyboard and throw it out on social media towards them.

Many college programs have banned athletes from using Twitter & Instagram as a user – they even take the next level steps of having people monitor the accounts to make sure the athletes are living by those rules. The athletes may not like it, but they are essentially private citizens once they get into college. They have access to things that the regular student doesn’t. They definitely don’t need social media to know the impact they have on a team or a campus community. Forget about needing social media to get dates. It can be a major distraction for a player or a team focused on being the subject of why we common people go on Twitter & Instagram to talk about them in the first place.

Once they get to the professional ranks, that’s when things go off the rail a bit, if the athlete is not smart. Granted, many are good players & are nice guys from what we can tell, but so many will do the immature things that get you in trouble on social media. Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel is a big example of this. When he was a star at Texas A&M, Manziel was known for tweeting about his party life & the ladies he used to hang out with. When it was time for him to get drafted into the NFL, the Browns had to crack down on his Twitter & have tried to curtail his wild lifestyle altogether.

Many athletes will tweet about their homes & their nightlife, & that is a great way to just ask for people to try to determine a location for where they are & possibly start some kind of trouble. It is interesting, however, that many athletes who don’t use Twitter & Instagram are able to focus in better. Tom Brady doesn’t have a Twitter, but has a Facebook profile where his comments are extremely measured, probably run through a social media marketer & if something is going on with him, you would never know it. Derek Jeter from the New York Yankees is considered one of the greatest Yankees of all-time with an interesting nightlife to go with it, but you couldn’t confirm hardcore if he did certain things or not because he made sure cell phone cameras didn’t catch him doing much & if there was a party at his home or other locations where he was hosting, there was a policy where people had to hand over their cell phones when they walked in, specifically to get rid of any situation that could arise from a video or photos that could go out in social media.

Jeter, however, made an interesting website called The Players Tribune, which is a website where athletes can write first-person essays about what they are going through in their careers & lives, being able to be as eloquent and clear as possible with their message. It is extremely classy & it truly lets the athlete be an athlete with their thoughts & emotions that go far deeper than just a basic social media message.

If a team or an athlete should need to be on social media – whether its personal or for business purposes – it should be mandatory that professional teams have social media marketers operate the Twitter profiles for its athletes. And monitor the social media managers closely to make sure that everyone is in lockstep with what does come out on social media one way or another. Having professionals filter through the personal message may be “invasive” or “not as authentic” but as an athlete, the important thing is image & perception. Social media can change perception almost instantly where an entire marketing campaign could be ruined by hitting the send button for a message that could be sent in a bad moment or could be meant for good & taken the wrong way.

Let the pros handle the social media. Let’s have the athletes be entertaining for their great work on the field rather than off the field.