Everything that is about to be said can be summed up: Don’t tweet dumb stuff.
Alright, fine, that’s not totally fair. While the lion’s share of my now-9,156 quips are vastly high school sports related, a handful of my thoughts — then limited to the medieval 180 characters — still exist. And language, and culture, have this weird thing of changing from time-to-time. There’s a lot of opinions on words, and a lot of those opinions and meanings change.
Athletes are figureheads on social media. They aren’t the only ones, though. Reporters, politicians and a whole slew of other professions use their quasi-professional twitter feeds to interact with people. And it’s an all-too-popular occurrence now for others to run a search on a user’s tweets, before exposing any questionable content — even if that content was sent almost a decade ago.
A prime example of that happened this month. While the University of Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray was celebrating his Heisman win — the second of the school in as many years — he was chaotically sent into damage control. Internet trolls found a questionable tweet, opened it to the world, and he had to apologize for it at 2 a.m., on a night that should have been all about celebration.
And, trust me, if you’re an aspiring athlete, it’s too easy for anyone competing against you — for a scholarship, for a roster spot, for a draft position — to nuke your persona with a well-timed retweet. You owe it to your future self to occasionally search, manage and cull any questionable content.
There’s multiple ways to do that. Personally, You can do the searches yourself. Find what you’ve sent to the world, decide if it was in now-questionable taste, and deal with it. Most of us won’t think you’re a bad person for using a poor choice of words in middle school — but future employers, coaches, scouts and businesses might.
That takes a lot of effort, though, and understandably might make some balk at the idea. If it’s too much to sift through those old blurbs, there are free sites that will remove any tweet older than an agreed upon age.
Professional athletes should have the team’s public relations group do this. In a perfect world, collegiate media staffs will be bolstered enough to do this for their athletes, too. But, the blame — and responsibility — always falls on the athlete.