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.


1 Comment

  • By Steve Liguori, January 17, 2013 @ 7:13 am

    Hey Jim. Always great to hear your thoughts especially as they pertainto Hofstra Athletics. I too am a fan of Hofstra lacross. While I was a coach in the PAL lacrosse system, I had the opportunity to bring my team to meet the players on the team. Coach Tierney was very gracious and supportive of our program. What a great recruiting tool!

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