Social media changing the way professional athletes can act

By Jared Talbot |

Professional athletes are looked up to by millions around the globe. They are idolized by people with posters, clothing, bobble heads and so on. Yet recently, athletes are seemingly in the news for the wrong reasons. Athletes have been getting in trouble for drugs, alcohol, domestic abuse, partying or even cheating to get a competitive advantage for a long time.

But why does it seem more apparent now than ever?

For one thing, we live in a very visual society. Beyond simply television, radio and newspapers, which have now been around for quite a while, we now live in world filled with social media. This has made it increasingly difficult for any type of person to hide what they do. Especially people with a big following like professional athletes.

Sport management major at Flagler College Andrew Graf believes that social media has affected everything when it comes to athletes. “In my opinion in recent years with social media athletes have less and less privacy so they need to be more careful then before,” he said.

Now if an athlete is caught doing something stupid at a bar or a nightclub, he is immediately under a microscope. This has forced athletes to be more careful, and if they are not, consequences typically ensue. Athletes in the past did not have to worry about such a big microscope and were able to be a bit looser with their actions. In that aspect in seems as if social media is beneficial. It can prevent athletes from doing anything too bad.

Athletes have various motives as to why they try to stay under the radar. The most obvious one is to avoid a bad reputation to the public, but there are several other motives as well. For one, there are thousands, even millions, of kids who watch these athletes across the globe. Kids who want to be just like them when they are older and when these athletes get caught, they ruin their image as heroes to those children.

NFL Players such as Johnny Manziel, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy have received a negative reputation not only due to their actions, but also the way they represent themselves on social media. Ray Rice and Greg Hardy have been proven guilty domestic abusers. Rice is not in the league anymore, and Hardy served a ban, but is still playing. Manziel on the other hand is being investigated for domestic abuse and is caught on social media intoxicated or worse multiple times. This has caused him to be released by the Cleveland Browns.

Though there are such players like this, many like sport management major Tyler Jones also believes some athletes get a bad representation. “Athletes are often viewed as criminals or in other negative manners when they get caught using drugs or being abusive, when it may not be a true representation of who they are as a person,” he said.

One thing is for sure: social media has changed things. It has caused athletes to go under a bigger microscope. Which has also caused these athletes to be a lot more careful with what they say and do. For better or for worse.

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