Tweet, tweet! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed a new trend in the sports world: Social Media. Director of Social Media, Ghost Blogger, Idea Inventor (yeah, you read that right). These are actual job titles I found. Describing the occupation of many, many people, including myself. Directors of Social Media make sure your business’ social media pages are kept up-to-date and that your business is promoted as much as possible in the world of Facebook, Twitter and the like. Admittedly, “Idea Inventor” is going a little far when you’re talking about creating job titles. But however you want to describe the job, it has become all but a necessity if you want your company to remain relevant in this age of technology.
What happens when social media works against you? What happens when an athlete shares their feelings? Tweets during the heat-of-the-moment? Posts a status that doesn’t sit well with their following of fans, coaches and media personnel? Well, you don’t have to look around too much to see the disaster potential there. A glaring example would be Courtney Fortson’s tasteless comment, referencing an intense workout with “Im gettin’ at workouts like a dude who doesnt understand the word no from a drunk girl lol” in the midst of an investigation of Razorback basketball players for an alleged sexual assault. There should be no “lol” here, Courtney. In fact, there should’ve never been a post of such extreme crudeness in the first place. Yet it happened. And things like that continue to happen. Daily. Not too long ago, the media was buzzing about Quinta Funderburk leaving Arkansas’ football program. Here on Hog Database, there was a steady update to keep track of his tweets. Things were looking bleak. It certainly sounded like Funderburk would not be a Razorback much longer with tweets like: “Losing Love For The Game Of Football” and “Wondering Wat Being A Regular College Student Feels Lyk” (Real tweets…Not my grammar) It’s really no surprise that the media and fans alike took those messages to heart. Sounds to me like the guy was pretty serious. But let’s think about this from a different perspective. Let’s think back to the days before social media. You know, when cars where powered by Fred Flintstone’s feet and everything cost a nickel.
These are not new feelings. This is not some outbreak of wishy-washiness among athletes. This kind of stuff has been going since the game has been played. Since players have been recruited, drafted, signed, so on and so forth. The public was just not aware of every time an athlete questioned who they’re playing for, why they’re dating so-and-so or if they want to continue playing their sport at all. Or in Quinta’s case, what sweet hairstyle they’re going to go with for prom. None of these thoughts or feelings are new. Social media has just made sure that every thought and feeling that pops up is immediately released to the public, in 140 characters or less. Which is quickly aiding in the demise of proper grammar. “Da”, “prolly”, “ur”. These are shortened and modified versions of words from the English language, believe it or not. I’ll spare you my rant on the destruction of language. You’re welcome.
Some players, like Rotnei Clarke, have decided to remove themselves from the social media world altogether. Perhaps a wise move, if you’re particularly prone to revealing your feelings in a text box. Many programs have implemented rules and guidelines for social media use. You can read all about the NCAA rules on social media and recruiting in the link at the bottom of this article. I believe it is completely necessary to have rules in place when it comes to the recruiting end. I suppose it’s necessary to have rules for student athletes already signed, as well. You can never be too sure that all the players have the same definition and understanding of what’s appropriate to post and what’s not. At the same time, aside from obvious infractions with the NCAA, should it matter at all what these athletes are saying? Is it anyone’s business? Certainly we all feel it’s our business when something is posted in such a public forum. However, how many times have you said something you wish you could take back? If you’re anything like me, that number is in the hundreds. And if you’ve been around the internet that long, some of those times you’d like to take back have been blasted online to either your friend list or potentially millions of people. My point is, all athletes are human. Well, except maybe Dirk Nowitzki. That’s debatable. But these very human athletes are caught in these very human moments and are criticized over it. Every word is scrutinized. People look for meaning in every word and phrase. Often times, the interpretation is wrong. Think Rashard Mendenhall’s tweet about Bin Laden’s death. People were ready to write him off as a terrorist. He’s one mean Steeler, but he’s no terrorist.
Information travels faster now than it ever has. A nonstop feed of juicy gossip, sports stats and funny cat pictures. That’s the internet in a nut shell. Then you add the spice of social media and you’ve got entertainment that will last. It gets you through the wait at the doctor’s office, a painfully boring visit with the in-laws or a meeting with the talking heads of your company. Social media is a wonderful outlet for many things. Whether or not it’s an outlet for every thought and feeling that you encounter, is not up to me. I do feel that everyone is accountable for their actions. However, I allow quite a bit of leeway when it comes to emotional posts from athletes. Particularly younger, collegiate level athletes. They’re homesick? Expect to hear about it. Coach gets on them hard during practice? You may hear them ponder other schools. They have a great game? You’ll hear about how great the fans are and how happy they are with their decision to play for their school. I can tell you one thing you will probably never hear. A definitive decision with that first “I quit” post. You may see it from time to time, but it will probably never be decided from that first tweet or status update. It will simply be an outburst of frustration from a human being that had a bad day. Keep an eye out for the next post. I can guarantee you’ll see the emotions transform faster than Oprah’s weight changes. And in the case of players like Glenn Bryant, occasionally your fears can come true. Their tweets really do hold the truth within them. However; in most cases, these players’ posts are no different than anything you or I would say. You and I just do not happen to play for the University of Arkansas or any other major program. The topics are different. Where we may complain about our copiers at the office, they complain about workouts and coaching. So the next time you see a discouraging tweet or status update, remember: It’s probably just a bad day at the office.
Aimee Miller for Hog Database
NCAA Rules: Social media and recruiting