Dear NFL I apologize for tweeting during the game but that was 2 months of my Bugatti payments you just took from me, I won’t do it again. I’ve been fined by the league a substantial amount of money for tweeting, 1st time twitter hasn’t made me money but cost me money.”
Professional and amateur athletes around the globe use social media as a tool to enhance fan engagement, providing the fans with a seemingly up-close-and-personal peek into their lives. They use their Twitter and Facebook pages regularly to share their points of view on a bad call or a locker room prank; others call out fellow teammates and opposing players on their performance or clete color-Rumors begin, and feuds arise. Pure entertainment?-to the fan, absolutely, but to corporate executives, printed vocality can at times be “TMI” or an overextension of the freedom of expression.
In August of 2009, the New York Times reported that several entities in the world of sports, including the NFL, NBA, collegiate sports programs, and ESPN became severely restrictive of players’ usage of social media as a method of relaying personal opinions and information to the public. Failure to comply with the rules would result in fines, suspensions, and under special circumstances, termination.
NFL Policy states that a player is in violation of league rules if he uses a social media platform either within 90 minutes of kickoff, throughout the game, or during the standard post-game interviews and press conferences. Coaches are being labelled as the “Twitter Police,” calling out player offenses as they become apparent, deciphering whether or not the posts are negative, insulting, or committing within the disallowed timeframe. As a member of the San Diego Chargers, in 2009, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, called out by Coach Norv Turner, was fined $2,500 for using Twitter to express that the “nasty food” served to the players during training was the premier reason that the Bolts were continuously coming up short of a Super Bowl appearance in recent years. When former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson insinuated that Coach Todd Haley was a homosexual via Twitter, he was released from the team and created some locker room (and bedroom) controversy! The most notorious Twitter offender of the NFL-Chad Ochocinco-thinks nothing of $25K fines for in-game tweets. He should use those fingers to catch a ball once in a while…
NBA Policy states that players are not permitted to Tweet during games, nor are they permitted to do so 45 minutes before and after games. Even before this rule was instated, Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was fined $25,000 for criticizing the lack of skills held by NBA officials in 2010. To date, Cuban’s Twitter presence has cost him over $1,000,000-pocket change! Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucs was fined $7,500 for displaying exuberance over his team’s record of hitting 500-apparently, happiness is costly!