Why social media can make or break any athlete’s career.
In the wake of another athlete being busted for a rush of blood to the fingers, sportspeople the world over have to ask themselves the question, is it really worth having a Twitter account?
Australian batsman David Warner is likely to be dragged over the coals or hit with a wet lettuce leaf, depending on what mood Cricket Australia is in, after he directed a tirade of abuse at two journalists via the social media website.
It is hardly the first time a famous person has snapped at a person online and it won’t be the last.
But as the age of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like settles in for the long haul, athletes have to ask themselves if they are doing their careers more harm than good.
Warner questioned the motives of the journalists for pursuing a story about the corrupt nature of the Indian Premier League, before attacking their careers.
Some would say Warner would have a point to his comments, but it was the way in which he asked the questions that will leave a sour taste in the mouths of officials, sponsors and fans.
Just 140 characters is often not enough to give context to an argument, this combined the fact many offending Tweets are sent at night, sometimes under the influence of inebriating substances, is a recipe for disaster.
For most athletes their personal social media hub is often a great way for them to interact with their fans and allows their supporters to often get a glimpse of the person off the field that was unheard of even 10 years ago.
But with these new-found insights, athletes open themselves up to outside forces that can land them in hot water.
Be it a troll or a keyboard warrior, people have the power to talk to their favorite, or often their not-so-favorite sportsperson, as if they knocked on their front door.
Everything from abuse after a poor performance to personal and, at times, disgusting attacks on the person themselves or their family, anything is possible in this brand-new frontier.
While there is often a ban function to get rid of unsavory types, some athletes simply should not open themselves up to banter from people looking to cause problems as there is no room for a glass jaw in cyber-space.
It could be argued that sportspeople, just as much as the rest of us, have a right to express their personal views online.
Which is true, but when you’re often the face of a franchise, club, sport or brand, responsibilities come with that and now social media has been around for several years, most competitions have drawn a very clear line in the sand.
The NBA banned the use of Twitter among coaches and players from 45 minutes before game time until players have finished their post-game responsibilities.
The Tennis Integrity Unit at the US Open also issued Twitter notices warning players’ tweets could violate the sport’s anti-corruption rules to name a few measures that have been put in place around the world.
But for all the rules and regulations the only thing that stands between an athlete and a potentially career-ending public relations disaster is their finger and the Tweet button.