When Vernon Wells was traded last Friday to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from the Toronto Blue Jays, the first public statement he made was on Twitter.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise given how enthusiastically athletes have embraced Twitter as a way to communicate with their fans. Twitter’s grip on professional athletes likely has to do with the following:
1. It’s quick and easy, meaning that using it only takes a few minutes. This is a good thing for people who spend a lot of time playing games and travelling.
2. It can be done on a mobile device, which matches the lifestyle of professional athletes.
3. It is way to control the conversation rather than having their messages filtered by reporters or bloggers. If an athlete wants to tell something to the world, they can do it themselves.
4. It lets fans interact with athletes in a direct way. At the same time, it lets athletes build a fan base in a personal way without having to have physical presence.
5. It is a way to establish a personal brand off the ice. This is particularly appealing to non-stars such as the Phoenix Coyotes’ Paul Bissonnette, who has established a large following with more than 35,000 followers.
Of course, not all athletes are using best practices when using Twitter. Far too many to count have found themselves into trouble with tweets that are inappropriate, offensive or downright dumb.
This list includes LeBron James, who sent this tweet after his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, lost by a staggering 59 points to the Los Angeles Lakers recently.
“Crazy. Karma is a b****. Gets you every time. It’s not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!” Lebron James tweets.
Emerson Eton, a member of the U.S. junior hockey team, got into trouble when he criticized the city of Buffalo, which hosted the world championships recently.
“Much needed day off, buffalo is a ghost town!! the worst city ever, it makes medicine hat look like paradise, never thought ide say that.”
Of course, athletes aren’t the only ones stumbling and bumbling on Twitter but their mistakes and miscues are thrust into the spotlight. This should make any pro athlete think twice about what they tweet.