Editor's Note: Ken's creative title is a play on "social media" using the Latin phrase "in medias res" which means "in the middle of things."
Rob Oller had an interesting commentary piece in Wednesday’s Columbus Dispatch on athletes and social media. Specifically, it tees off with the Alex Anzalone Affair, then rolls into cautionary commentary regarding athletes, but which I feel can apply to society in general. For disclosure purposes, I don’t Tweet nor do I Facebook. My platforms for social
media are the telephone and email, once cutting edge technologies in their own right.
Ohio State’s latest recruiting rhubarb sends a sad but necessary message to athletes: The best way to handle social media is to be unsocial, because one never knows where a Facebook post or Twitter tweet will lead.
Rob then goes on to recap the actions, which I believe we are fairly familiar with. He goes on to say that even though Alex has de-committed, he may yet re-commit to the Buckeyes. We shall see.
Regardless of whether Alex Anzalone recommits to Ohio State or goes elsewhere, the takeaway from this oddity is that the Internet has created a new world of worry, where posing for a seemingly innocent photograph can cause unintended pain, fear and embarrassment for individuals and institutions.
For individuals, the cellphone camera has become a potentially damaging device. Just ask Brett Favre, Grady Sizemore or former Ohio State center Greg Oden, all of whom were caught with their pants down when sexually explicit private photos turned up or were discussed in public. Those embarrassing episodes were somewhat self-inflicted.
Of course, this is not limited to Oller’s examples of athletes. Here in New York, we are too familiar with Congressman Chris Lee’s self-portrait resulting in a Chippendales moment as well as Congressman Anthony Weiner having a Weiner moment.
The situation involving Anzalone is more distressing because it encompasses a much wider swath of social interaction. To the OSU recruits, Waugh was nothing more than a fan wanting to interact with up-and-coming Buckeyes — the proverbial
“brush with greatness” that motivates many people to pose for pictures or ask for autographs.
But if Waugh’s potential motivation sounds familiar, do yourself a favor; either stay in the stands or get help before its too
late. The kids may be media savvy, but social savvy, not quite.
Choosing our words more wisely is more important than ever, too. Tweet too much information, or wrong information, and suffer the consequences. The freedom to say what you want, when you want, is not always free. The college athlete who
rips his coach via social media will suffer the consequences of his decision to apply his First Amendment rights.
What comes to mind is the sad case of Yuri Wright of New Jersey. From a different article. Due to an unsavory Tweet, young Yuri ran into some trouble, and had his scholarship from Michigan pulled. He did receive an offer and signed with the University of Colorado this past year.
New Jersey cornerback Yuri Wright might be learning the hard way how social media can blow up in one's face. The highly regarded 2012 recruit has had his scholarship offer rescinded by Michigan and been expelled from his high school over a series of racial, sexual and otherwise offensive tweets, according to thewolverine.com and northjersey.com. Wright since has deleted his Twitter account. His reported tweets are too graphic to reprint.
"Hopefully. this example will send a wake-up call to high profile prospects moving forward to watch what they put out in cyberspace. To my knowledge this is the highest profile prospect to be dropped by a college program and expelled from school over Twitter," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said.
Back to Rob Oller‘s article:
The burden of responsibility to monitor social — and social media — interactions falls on the athlete. Good luck with that in this not-so-brave new world, where things once held secret have become sensationalized.
I agree with Rob up to a point. There is also an onus on fans and media, including the unshaven press, such as us poor bloggers, to pull it back a bit as well. If the incoming athlete is fluffed to the point where it may create an unjustified oversized ego, then the athlete will be more than happy to Tweet to his hearts content, which can prove problematic. If it’s a lower profile athlete, the star-struck nature of new found notoriety of being offered a scholarship to a dream university may mean tamping down the social media interaction be a bit too much to ask. I admit that I am speculating, but it would be irresponsible not to.
I suggest you read Rob’s commentary in its entirety. I’s well worth the effort for the perspective.