I refuse to believe that professional and amateur athletes alike are this bad when it comes to social media.
Like it or not, this is the dawn of social media. No longer does anyone need to broadcast their thoughts and opinions through mainstream media to reach wide audiences. Gone are the days when a press conference was the only way to break big news.
For the most part, social media has benefitted guys like me. Instead of having to track down and go through the right channels to get information, I can now almost reach out and touch anyone in the world who has chosen to join the social revolution. For the most part, that has worked out well for athletes and reporters alike. But I canít pretend there have not been mistakes made on both sides.
There have been pictures that shouldnít have been posted such as those by a U.S. Olympic swim champion smoking a bong. There were poorly worded messages that were insensitive like Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhallís Twitter comments regarding Osama bin Ladenís death.
As I explain to my children, once you put something out in cyberspace, itís out there forever. Thereís no taking it back.
As a public figure (like most athletes in college and pros are) there is no such thing as hiding in the social realm. Every post, blog and video has viral potential. Athletes who take part in the social network have a responsibility to learn the rules.
Itís one of my biggest pet peeves when an athlete or someone in the public eye says something that is deemed in poor taste and then feel that their rights to free speech have been infringed upon when they lose endorsements or a job. Their right to free speech wasnít violated; rather they were just held accountable for their actions.
I have the right to say whatever I like (as long as itís legal) without fear of reprisal from my government. However, that doesnít mean that those I work for, to whom Iím related or who just know me personally, canít hold me accountable.
Iím not saying that there havenít been great stories that have been born from social media because there have. Tim Tebow (shocking isnít it) has on more than one occasion reached out to fans who needed a little help.
Athletes, whether they like it or not, have their lives play out in front everyone through social media. Social media is a boon and a blessing and it should be treated with care.