Life Isn’t Always “Tweet”
Jan 15, 2013Posted by james

A couple of months ago, as The Ohio State Buckeyes were preparing for the biggest game of the football season against Nebraska, Ohio’s third-string freshman quarterback posted a tweet that received more attention than the game.

“Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL,” read the message, “we ain’t come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS.”

Someone with the team or the university quickly deleted the tweet and closed the player’s Twitter account. However, since media coverage and messaging now are instantaneous, multiple media outlets already had seen the tweet. The message quickly became national news.

One sports/entertainment media outlet concluded that the tweet was “a childish and harmless act.” It was childish, but it certainly was not harmless.

Any athlete, especially one who competes on a high school, college, or pro level, must understand that the scrutiny level is high. The “no tolerance” rules that govern fighting, sportsmanship and off-the-field behavior also oversee proper use of social media. Any comment on social media can reflect poorly on a player, for a team and for a school.

After the tweet by the Ohio State athlete, OSU distributed a statement that explained the university’s social media policy:

“We allow our student-athletes the opportunity to express themselves via the social mediums,” read the statement. “What we do ask of them and communicate to them is the importance of being respectful, appropriate and aware that their communications can impact many people. We remind [our student athletes] that others may have different views and opinions on what may and may not be appropriate, so always remember not to post or tweet anything that could embarrass themselves, their team, teammates, the university, their family or other groups, organizations or people.”

The student tweeter received a one-game suspension. For him, no doubt, this was a teachable moment and a lesson learned.

On the business side, a poor, misguided, or even a malicious posting on social media can severely damage the reputation of a company. If your company does not have a mandatory social media policy for employees, seriously consider creating one immediately. You can not afford the risk of an errant comment going viral and damaging your business, your reputation and your relationship with your customers.

If you would like assistance in developing a social media policy, my team at the Whitmore Group is here to get your started.


How Will Baseball Writers Vote?
Jan 01, 2013Posted by james

In a few days, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the 2013 class of inductees. The vote is conducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. As in recent years, the media will have the honor of selecting, or not selecting, players who have tainted the game during the steroid era.

Baseball seems to have addressed the on-the-field issue of substance enhancement with its current drug testing program. However, some of the players suspected of enhancing their game over the last 25 years, and who broke cherished records during that time, now are beginning to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Six years ago, Mark McGwire, who is suspected of steroid use, became eligible for Cooperstown. He never has received more than 24 percent of the vote (a player must appear on 75 percent of the ballots). Last year, he received just 19.5 percent. Baseball purists are concerned that McGwire continues to receive votes during each year of eligibility, and they are worried that other alleged substance abusers, as they are placed on the ballot, could receive enough votes to be enshrined with baseball’s immortals.

The 2013 ballot is a litmus test. For the first time, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa—all alleged users of steroids—are eligible for the Hall of Fame. Will the same 19.5 – 24 percent who voted for McGwire also vote for these three players who set big records with their big muscles? Could more writers be swayed to vote for them? Could too many voters find excuses to open the doors to Cooperstown for these players?

Some writers believe that they should vote for players based solely on their accomplishments on the field. If, at a later time, a determination is made beyond a doubt that a player used illegal substances to enhance performance, then that player can be stripped of the honor. Many other writers refuse to vote for any player suspected of using steroids even when the proof is lacking.

All of this can be very confusing and frustrating for fans. It is the same for some of the voters, too. But, actually, there may be a better way for writers to judge and to vote.

The ballot sent to voters each year includes this statement: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.”

One-half of the decision process includes the words “integrity,” “sportsmanship” and “character.” So, voting a player into Cooperstown should be no different than accepting a person as a member of a prestigious business organization or private club, or hiring a person to be part of a company. Besides accomplishments and talent, it is important to measure a person’s integrity, character and the ability to perform as a member of a team.

At the Whitmore Group, we place “integrity,” “sportsmanship” and “character” on the top of our list. With this foundation, we then help each employee develop or broaden his or her talents to benefit our entire team.