Social media is a communication medium used by hundreds of millions of people. Starting with teenagers and going up to the elderly, it seems everyone has some sort of connection to social media.
One profession that thrives on social media is professional sports. Athletes, and even members of the front office, use the platform to keep in touch with fans, announce milestones such as free agent signings, trades, and monumental moments, and even to encourage fans to come to games.
Athletes have a choice as to how they use social media. Sometimes, athletes can misuse social media and cast themselves in a negative light. This can include responding to fans who are taunting them, sharing an opinion on a national or global event that may offend a certain race or creed (everyone had different views on issues like the Trayvon Martin incident), or talking trash about an opponent who may have run into trouble with the law.
Athletes really have an uphill battle when it comes to social media. If they post a photo of themselves enjoying their riches, they can rightfully be called "arrogant" or "braggarts." However, if they post an opinion about something that's happening in today's world, there will always exist a conflicting view.
The bottom line is that it's almost impossible for them to be on social media and continue to be held in a perfect light, even by their most robust supporters.
For those that choose to use social media, there are many rules against using the platforms during sporting events. Most recently, we had the Pablo Sandoval situation, which I reacted to in this blog post. In short, Sandoval "liked" a photo of a female while his team was playing a game. He was suspended for the incident.
So this begs the question - should social media be banned during professional sporting events?
Sure, most of the people in today's world who work in office jobs use social media several times per day, but let me remind you that these same people aren't being paid millions of dollars per year. The athletes using social media have plenty of time to connect with fans, "like" photos of other people, or send messages to friends and family, but that time is NOT during the game.
Athletes need to remember that it's regular people without huge disposable incomes that support their lifestyles. They come to the stadium and spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, to watch them at their best. When a player disrespects the game by going on social media for any reason, their head is not in the game. This isn't what the fans paid for!
Most sporting events are right around three hours. As an ex athlete myself, I know there is prep time before the game, and I know most pro's spend time with media and team functions for a small amount of time after the game.
So let's just say on a very conservative number that they aren't in a game time mode for 18 hours per day. That's plenty of time to tweet, like, share, and post stuff on social media outlets.
Pablo Sandoval is making $17,600,000 this year NOT to tweet during games. He's paid to produce runs and occasionally play defense. For $17,600,000, I'd personally shut down my social media for the entire season, or perhaps the entirety of my professional career.
Call me crazy, but that's just me.