Steeler’s running back Rashard Mendenhall’s opinionated and outlandish Twitter posts have been the topic of conversation in nearly every media outlet. Mendenhall posted several controversial comments after the death of Osama bin Laden, and now all professional athletes are feeling the pressure to use social media more responsibly. Through the years, athletes have had limited media access, specifically because everything they say and do is a reflection of their organization; only in the most recent years have players had easy accessibility to the media—due in large part to the advent of social media.
Athletes are often viewed through a microscope; where the line between what is acceptable to say and what isn’t is a thin one. It is a well-known point that professional sports organizations have a low tolerance policy for bad publicity when it is at the fault of their players; it is easy for athletes to Tweet themselves out of a job. Rashard is facing the repercussions of his actions as Champion Apparel Company terminated Rashard’s endorsement contract in response to his recent tweets. When it comes to using social media there is a code of conduct that we all must adhere to when we work for someone. Coaches and team owners are reiterating to their players how vital it is to keep in mind the reputation of the organization when they are speaking publicly. Due to how easy social media accounts can be accessed, when a post is up, even just momentarily, thousands people can see it.
Steeler’s teammate Ryan Clarke spoke about Mendenhall’s tweets, telling media that “social media is ruining the world”. Social media isn’t ruining the world, but it does allow for people to express their opinions at will and those opinions can have serious consequences in cases such as this. This is a simple case of live and learn: athletes can count on this incident to set the precedent for the future. Athletic organizations may not appreciate the fact that their players can reach a million people by a mouse click but in today¹s digital world, that’s currently the unofficial standard.