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Social Media and Sport

Yesterday there was an article in The Canberra TimesPay them not to tweet, about whether or not professional athletes should be paid not to use social media. In the article there is discussion from Keith Lyons about professional athletes having media training and other eduaction and welfare support. This training is undoubtably invaluable to these athletes and those that learn from the information are able to have significant positive media expoosure to enhance their careers and even sport as a whole. Should this mean that they are provided with further financial incentive for good media presence?

A professional athlete makes their money partly through their playing contracts, but also through endorsements and public appearances. Media exposure has a significant impact on the money that will be involved in an athletes marketing value. This basically means that they already have a financial incentive to promote good public media presence. There is also the consideration that they should have contractual obligations not to bring their team, sport and sometimes nation into disrepute. These should be the incentives, not more money.

I agree with Paul Heptonstall who later in the article states “prohibiting players from social media would exacerbate problems and cause more of a media circus later on.” This suggests there is definietly value in having additional training in these areas. That is where the money should go, not to the players that choose not to use social media. Athletes can be told to remove photos and posts that have a negative impact on the organisations they are contractually obliged to, as happened with Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk when they posted photos of themselves with guns onto facebook before the London Olympics.

The other end of this debate is where do the legal implications of some of these things come into it. As The Canberra Times article points out, there are risks involved in social media, and we all know that there is no such thing as privacy on social media. Anything that is put up will be in the public domain.

My sports and the law lecturer today was making the comment that there is the potential for claims of negligence against clubs and organisations for the statements made by emplyees on their social media sites. As there has currently been no cases of legal action with regards to the duty of care an organisation has to their members statements on social media there is still the potential risk of litigation against a club. Although there are a number of complicated scenarios surrounding these situations it still leads the question; is anybody safe in an environment where anything you say is recoded on the internet and becomes the potential property of somebody else without your knowing?

I think at the end of the day it is a risk that we are either willing to take and guard as best we can, or something that we do not want to be part of. The way technology is moving I think it will be difficult for anybody to be successful long term without a social media presence, and those that do it the best will have to most rewarding careers.



This blog was started for a Uni subject, and has since evolved into a place where I can voice my thoughts, typically about coaching and sport. I grew up in Sydney, then moved to Canberra for some further study in 2011 and when I finished in 2014 I moved up to Brisbane. I have played, coached and generally been involved with volleyball since 2013. As of 2017 I am now the QAS Volleyball Assistant Coach.

2 thoughts on “Social Media and Sport

  1. I started reading the article you discuss with a frame of mind that why on earth should anyone get paid not to do something, but, as usual, Keith’s arguments are well thought out and compelling. The key (in my mind) is that posting on social media is now a business, not a pastime. ‘Celebrities’ are both created and enhanced with an effective use of social media. It is a source of income. Therefore, if an employer wants to stop this from happening, that is, stop someone from an external income source, there needs to be an alternative.

    Having said this, alongside any acceptance of a changed world regarding celebrity and communication, if someone is being paid to do a job, then they need to be held accountable when they negatively affect their employer. This is, of course, a very grey area, and careful thought needs to be put into how to mange the situation.

    Lastly, sometimes it isn’t a grey area. Using your example of the swimmers posting photos of themselves with guns, I believe this was a bad decision but not necessarily a horrible one. Having lived in the States it’s important to be aware that the culture of guns there (where the photo was taken) is radically different to that of Australia. What I think was culpable was to post a photo of a Greek holiday on social media within the timeframe of a social media ban as a consequence of the gun photo. This isn’t a bad decision, this is an act of defiance towards an employer.

    1. So does that mean you both agree and disagree with both sides of the arguement?

      I personally dont think an employer should be able to stop someone from saying what they want, but they can definitely provide consequences where necessary. In the same way an employer shouldn’t have to pay someone to stop them from doing the wrong thing.

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