ENGL - Anderson
December 1, 2014
The Rise and Fall of Professional Athletes
With the introduction of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks professional athletes have been placed under a microscope with their every action being scrutinized by everyone in the public sphere. However this was not always the case when it came to Pro Athletes status in society. A pro athlete ten years ago may not have been met with the same strife as a current pro athlete. Athletes of the past lived by a different set of rules and could do no wrong in the eyes of loyal fans everywhere. They were almost in a sense viewed as a deity to some. Athletes of today are faced with challenges not met by past pro athletes. They cannot divulge true emotions in fear of the social backlash, or take a stand on a particular issue due to the people of opposite stance not buying their endorsed product which in turn would cost the athlete millions of dollars in endorsement deals. Yes the microcosm of pro athletes still exist because not everyone can be one, but the status of sports athletes in society has evolved due to influences from the public sphere.
We live in a different time then say ten years ago, not only from a social economic standpoint, but also from a technological standpoint. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have made a great impact on the social sphere. It is easy for people the share their innermost thoughts and views on particular cultural issues with just a simple click of a submit button. When it comes to pro athletes today, this ease of sharing to the public sphere has become a double edged sword. One side can lead to great publicity of a particular endorsement while the other side can lead ones' public image downwards spiral into a dark deep abyss. Sometimes not only the image of a particular athlete affected by the implications of posting to these social networks affected but their families feel the brunt of the "rip-tide effect" of mainstream media's coverage. A perfect example would be the Ray Rice incident that took place a couple of months ago. A video was released of Ray Rice physically assaulting his then fiancé Janay Rice in an elevator of a Casino in New Jersey. The video was not for the faint of heart as it shows Ray Rice, an All-Pro NFL running back; deliver a knock-out punch to a 150lb woman. The ESPN, CNN, and every other news outlet ran with this story and made this a public issue. So much so that the NFL has been forced into developing a series of domestic violence television ads that shows the NFL will not stand for any type of domestic violence. This all should be an afterthought as domestic violence should not tolerated in any work environment, but did the video of Janay Rice being physically accosted in that elevator need to be released in order for change to happen. Janay Rice posted the following to her Instagram account in rebuttal to the release of the video,"...No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing...". This is involvement of the public opinion and these mass media outlets have not taken into account of what the release of this video has had on the Rice family. It's not to say that Domestic Violence isn't right, but the personal life of Professional Athletes and families are constantly being intruded upon by public opinions from the public sphere. The same cannot be entirely said about the past athletes transgressions they faced ten years ago.
Professional Athletes of the past lived in a time when social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram didn't exist. Their lives weren't constantly being documented as where they ate lunch that afternoon to what they were spotted at Wal-Mart buying. Their deepest and darkest secrets were not plastered around social networking sites for everyone to see. For example Chris Carter a...
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