Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Athletes and Twitter: What Can I Say?

We currently live in a very social media driven world and an even more social media driven sports entertainment industry. Twitter is the quickest and most effective way to receive the up to the second updates on your favorite leagues, teams, and players. Remember the days of turning on SportsCenter every morning and night to get that day's news on all your favorite sports? Not anymore. As long as you have a twitter account you can now receive updates by the seconds on the leagues, teams, players, and so much more that you choose to follow. Not only to you get the updates faster, but you also now can choose to only get the news you want to read. Waiting through a whole hour long episode of SportsCenter for the report you want to hear is a thing of the past. A wise, fictional, character once said something that correlates to the social media world perfectly. "With great power, comes great responsibility."

The big story in the sports world the past few days was Jason Collins coming out that he is gay. While this is not a big deal on a day to day basis, due to the fact that being gay is more socially acceptable than in years past, it has set the sports world and the media around it ablaze. There has always been this state of mind in pro sports that there are no gay athletes at the pro level. Realistically that is highly unlikely, especially with how being gay has become more and more acceptable in the eyes of the public. Finally it has happened. A professional athlete has come out and told the general public. If you wish to read Sports Illustrated's article written by Jason Collins himself here is the link.

Though Jason Collins' journey to becoming the first publicly know gay professional athlete is a great story, it's not what this article is about. It just prompts the perfect example of the standards that athletes are held to on social media, and how something said by an athlete will be criticized more than that of a common civilian.

This is a tweet Miami Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace released into the social media universe. As a Dolphins fan, at first glance I personally just thought it was a stupid tweet and that he truly just doesn't understand why a man would choose to have a sexual attraction in other men. Then came the rain of Mike Wallace is a gay basher tweets, which are what most would expect. As those tweets came in Mike Wallace immediately apologized via twitter and deleted the original message. When you examine this incident this is a perfect case for a player who made a stupid mistake of voicing his thoughts on a social network. Is Mike Wallace opposed to gay rights? Who knows. This was more than likely just an athlete just forgetting the high standard that everyone of their tweets/status are held to. Mike Wallace probably learned to sensor his mouth on social media. The Miami Dolphins released this statement after the situation started to dissolve.

Mike Wallace has apologized for his comments, and we have addressed the matter with him. Mike’s comments do not reflect the views of the Miami Dolphins. We believe in a culture of inclusiveness and respect, and any statements to the contrary are in no way acceptable to our organization. We will address the entire team about our policy of inclusion and make sure they all understand the importance of respecting individual choices.”

This whole situation just proves how powerful a celebrities voice on social media can be in the public eye. If Mike Wallace had vocally spoken what he said there may have never been any fallout from his statement at all. It could have been taken in a different context completely in just a specific tone or setting. When athletes speak on social media they need to be sure that they are politically correct in the phrasing of their opinion, or face the consequences.


Zachary Cintron is a sophomore in Drexel's Sport Management program with a minor in Music Theory and Composition.  Zach also writes for his personal blog, Sports and Music Weekly. You can follow Zach on Twitter at @cintronz.

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