Today, the Australian football world was rocked hard by the news that Port Adelaide player (now former) John McCarthy died in Las Vegas while on holiday with teammates. The news first broke via Twitter and then spread like wildfire across media agencies, online newspaper websites and general Twitter users.
After the meltdown over Australian athletes using Twitter at the London Olympics, and being too socially active, a lot of questions are being raised about the huge prominence of social media and its sometimes dire consequences.
There is nothing wrong with communicating with your fans and family. However, there comes a point where one simple post about an event can go viral, backfire and cause a lot negativity and possibly hurt a sport stars confidence.
What National Sporting Organisations (NSO’s) need to do now is have a greater control over what athletes do just before their event, before a match or during the course of a tournament. Some clubs and/or organisations already place a ban on mobile phones in change rooms, encouraging athletes not to use social media before races, and limiting what content they are allowed to break.
A major problem is the addiction that athletes have. The want and desire to communicate with fans is very strong, and Twitter and Facebook allow for just that.
There’s two sides here: professional athletes and their fans, and media organisations who “pounce” on just about any story, wanting to be the first to break the news to their readers.
Taking a look at the news side of things, newspapers and magazines are now posting and linking content online, while writers have also taken to Twitter and Facebook. The demand for competition is so intense that it seems at times news companies will go to extreme measures to “break” the story first, when in fact the first appearance of the story came from an athlete or a member of the general public.
The other is the intertwining and fragile relationship between athletes, social media and news organisations. Twitter has fast become a service where anyone and everyone tells information the moment they hear it. And this can pose the danger of reporting incorrect facts, rumours and innuendo.
One thing is clear: Facebook and Twitter have changed the way everyone communicates. Sports stars are now more accountable for their actions than ever before-what is posted on the internet stays on the internet, even if they delete the content. News companies must tread carefully on a news story, or their credibility could be irreparably damaged.
Bottom line: Even sports stars aren’t invulnerable to vitriol or negative comments. In fact, their high profiles probably make it even harder for them to remain out of the spotlight.
(Photo from Google Images)