Athletes Paying the Price for Twitter Use

Posted by Trevor Mickelson

Things the average person can buy for $25,000:

  • 2010 Dodge Charger with a tank of gas
  • 50 iPads
  • 16 42” Sony LCD Flat Screen TVs
  • 12,000 McDoubles; 9,000 McChickens; and 4,000 hot fudge sundaes from the McDonalds dollar menu.

Things a professional football player can buy for $25,000:

  • Up to 140 characters, 90 minutes before or after a game

Last week, the following message was posted on Terrell Owens’ Twitter account:

“A lucky fan wearing my jersey 2day will get a signed football by Me & Ocho Cinco! My asst will pick U out!! Good luck!”

Owens, a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, is now facing a fine of up to $25,000 because of the NFL’s strict social media policy. Implemented a year ago, the policy restricts players from using Twitter 90 minutes before or after a game.

While $25,000 may not be a lot to someone making millions of dollars each year, it still makes you wonder why athletes choose to post messages when they know it is against the league’s policy. Is what they have to say so important that they are willing to pay the fine? If Owens has nothing better to do with $25,000, why not give the money to charity and skip the pregame tweet?

Owens does deserve some credit though. Unlike so many other athletes, it isn’t the content of his tweet that is causing problems. I applaud him for this, and don’t think athletes should be fined based on the timing of their tweets. But it seems like every week another athlete is getting in trouble because of the content of messages posted to his Twitter feed.

Careers are ruined. Money is lost. Reputations are destroyed. All because some of these athletes think what they have to say is too important and clever to be kept quiet. When are they going to learn that everything they say has consequences, and everything they tweet will be read?

Twitter is a forum that has the potential to be beneficial to society, and athletes are in a position to make that happen. Yet so many of them continue to abuse their celebrity status and disregard whatever minor consequences may follow.

However, all is not lost. There are a few things that could be done to put a positive spin on this Twitter abuse. The league needs to substantially increase fines to the point where athletes start obeying the rules. On top of that, donate all money generated from the fines to charities. This way, if athletes still feel obligated to post something that will get them in trouble, there will be positive repercussions.

What are your thoughts? Should athletes be forced to pay fines for abusing social media? Or should policies such as the one in the NFL even exist?

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3 responses to “Athletes Paying the Price for Twitter Use

  1. Donating funds from fines is a good idea but I am not sure about raising the fines.

    What about getting the coaches get involved. The issue with tweeting before a game is deeply routed in the expecation that athletes have their heads in the game. If the athlete is tweeting it should tell the coach something, maybe these actions should result in some on field consequences.

  2. Oof. Someone ought to fine all those athletes for poor spelling and grammar.

    What is the NBA’s reason for banning tweets 90 minutes before and after a game? Is it considered a distraction?

  3. I think we all are going about this the wrong way. Social media like Facebook and Twitter are very positive. It is a powerful thing and people and athletes, more so than the regular person, need to be conscious of what they are saying and posting. If we keep looking for reason’s to bash social media we are going to loose and soon diminish the impact that it is having on tons of people. Athletes post about charities and give-a-ways they are doing all the time. This connection that the athlete is trying to promote with the fan is great and I don’t think fans are going to want it to go away. So sometimes some athletes say things that spark this discussion but that’s what these mediums were created for to “voice your voice online.”

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