24 October 2012
Back in the year 1860, the Pony Express was known to be the fastest and most efficient method of sending mail. It had taken approximately ten days for a horse to travel across the country and deliver the parcels to their recipients, an astonishingly short amount of time for the people of that particular era. A little over 150 years after the inception of the Pony Express, technological advances have been made and it is safe to say that a simple message to a friend no longer takes ten days to send, nor does it travel by horse. Now, in the year 2012, a message can be sent simply with a few clicks on a keyboard or a couple clicks of a cell phone. Along with the gratification that comes along with knowing that your message was sent and received instantly, there comes a few dangers. These hazards become a greater risk for those individuals who are in the spotlight, especially professional athletes. If an athlete makes a controversial remark about any issue, he makes himself subject to mass public scrutiny; from there, the athlete may lose the respect of his fans, supporters, and even teammates based on his stance on the particular topic. An athlete may be so preoccupied by social media and how the world perceives them that he may lose focus on his main goal, which is performing well in his sport. Many professional sports leagues have rules set in place against athletes expressing their opinions of certain sports-related topics on social media, so if a player steps out of line and disobeys one of these rules he is subject to a heavy fine enforced by the league’s officials. Social media shouldn’t be used by professional athletes because of the intense microscope they are under on an everyday basis. Professional athletes have a huge following while participating in their craft, but once they enter the world of social media, especially Twitter, some athletes see this crowd start to dwindle down. Many believe that although fans may root for a player during a game, it does not necessarily translate into support off the field in their social life., In Mark Emmons’ Mercury News article entitled “Amid Giants World Series, Twitter gives fans a glimpse into athletes' lives,” Harry Edwards, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of sociology, states that: The [San Francisco] 49ers want guys to interact with fans, but they want them to be smart because when you put something out there, it's out there forever. It could end up in your obituary. But it's important that fans can feel like they can talk to an athlete and say, 'Maybe it was a tough day at the office for you guys Sunday, but you'll get 'em next week.' Figure.1 Stoudemire's actions on Twitter epitomize that anything that is done over social media can be publicized and scrutinized in an instant. Figure.1 Stoudemire's actions on Twitter epitomize that anything that is done over social media can be publicized and scrutinized in an instant. Although he has always been on rival opposing teams, Amar’e Stoudemire had been one of my favorite NBA players to watch due to his toughness and high-flying ability. When I first joined Twitter in 2011 he was one of the first people that I knew I had to follow. Unlike some athletes before him, he was—by most people’s standards—a respected professional basketball player who did most of his trash talking between the basketball court’s lines rather than blowing up on Twitter after a game. However, during late June of this year, Stoudemire’s reputation and fan following took a major hit after he angrily messaged a fan in response to the fan’s tweet questioning Stoudemire’s performance on the court. In the direct message as shown in Figure 1.1, Stoudemire uses slanderous and even anti-gay slurs which are blocked out with black boxes. Although he apoligized after the picture went viral, the damage had already been done and his reputation had taken a...