Social media and sports

When athletes are talked about in the news, it is usually for broken records, career performances or criminal accusations.  But lately, a hot topic in sports news has been violation of league social media policies, which is no surprise in our technology-driven society.

The rise of social media has happened so rapidly over the past few years, making league social media policies fairly new.  The NFL’s social media policy, which states that players, coaches and football operations personnel cannot use social media from 90 minutes prior to kickoff until after the traditional media interviews are completed, was just implemented last season.

On Oct. 15, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens was fined $5,000 for tweeting an hour before kickoff prior to the Oct. 10 game.  Owens sent the tweet, which said that his assistant would give a fan wearing his jersey an autographed football from him and fellow Bengal Chad Ochocinco, from Paul Brown Stadium.

The only other NFL players that have been fined in accordance to the social media policy are Arizona Cardinal Darnell Dockett and Ochocinco.  Dockett was fined $5,000 when he tweeted 20 minutes before a game.  Ochocinco was fined $25,000 when he was found to be tweeting before and during an August preseason game.

Social media has become a medium of choice for communication between athletes and their fans.  New Orleans Saints rookie cornerback Malcolm Jenkins sent out a tweet saying that he has signed with the team.

The NBA also instituted a social media policy last season for its athletes, coaches and personnel.  Those involved with the NBA are not allowed to use cell phones, PDAs or other electronic devices, which would also include Facebook, Twitter or other social media outlets, during the game.  Some teams have also implemented social media policies that add onto the league’s, saying that players, coaches and personnel cannot use social media during team time.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban received the NBA’s only social media fine for tweeting a complaint about referees during a game in March 2009.

The need for these policies reflects the lack of professionalism among athletes and other personnel.  The policies that the leagues have implemented are a good idea to keep athletes and personnel in check.  Even though, social media outlets are extremely helpful and fun for athletes and their fans, there is a time and place.

MARVEL is the sports editor.

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