Spike Eskin: Solving The Athlete Twitter Problem
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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – I was one of many people who took a look at Twitter late on Saturday night and said the thing, “oh, Shady.” I tweeted it, and everyone knew what I was talking about.
LeSean McCoy was the next in a long line of Eagles who have made mistakes on Twitter, some more problematic than others. In the last few years, we’ve seen Todd Herremans and his homophobic comment about True Blood, Jason Babin insulting Eagles fans, Riley Cooper calling fans names, Brandon Graham getting in fights with fans during the lockout, DeSean Jackson tweeting pictures of outrageous bar bills (among other things) and Osama Bin Laden jokes, and Michael Vick revealing that he has a dog.
This is one team, in one city, in about two years. Needless to say, the Eagles aren’t alone in this.
So how do we solve this problem? There have been a few solutions out there.
Easy. Teams tell their players they can’t use Twitter. Not so fast, not so easy.
It would get rid of the problem, but it’s not going to happen, because of one thing, and that one thing is money.
The positives of social media, Twitter in specific, are obvious. It gives athletes a direct line to their fans. It allows someone the opportunity to speak directly to one of their favorite players, if only for a moment. It’s this direct connection that allows players to leverage their followers into endorsements and sponsorships, all of which mean money. Sometimes, a lot of money.
How else could we solve it? Well the team could do a better job monitoring and educating the team on how to use social media.
A nice plan, but let’s remember that the Eagles haven’t even done a good job of getting players to play FOOTBALL efficiently over the last few years, which should be their specialty. The team can do damage control, but players aren’t going to listen, and I can’t really blame them.
Players could hire their own social media advisers. That would work. It also seems though that someone who would get in a fight with their child’s mother on Twitter isn’t the sort of person who would make such a hire.
I’ve got a fix.
I’ve got one small thing that would really help solve this problem for professional athletes. Take Twitter off your phone.
It’s like leaving your car keys at home when you go to the bar to keep yourself from driving. It’s making sure you don’t have chips in the cabinet when you’re on a diet.
You won’t have to worry about tweeting when you’re out drinking. You won’t react emotionally after a game, while you’re sitting in the locker room reading about how much you suck from the fans that you thought loved you. To tweet, you’re actually going to have to make the decision to sit down at a computer and consciously do it. This is not going to fix every problem, but it will prevent a few. It would have prevented McCoy’s error, for sure.
It will mean fewer pageviews for us that cover this sort of thing, but fewer problems for the athletes we cover.
Athletes, just like the rest of us, have been acting like idiots for years. The difference between us and them, is that most people don’t care when we act like idiots. We don’t have 200,000 followers (or more) hanging on every word.
Follow Spike on Twitter @SpikeEskin.