Ace pitcher David Price says that he will not change his habits on Twitter. The Boston Red Sox should be more nervous about the players’ mindsets, instead.
Ricky Doyle of NESN reported that “Price has been big on Twitter since joining the party in 2009, and although Boston is a tough market that can chew you up and spit you out, the left-hander plans to continue his same social media habits as a member of the Red Sox.”
While Doyle does not make a harsh judgement either way about the use of social media, he mentions in an earlier article, last December, about the pressures and consequences that come with those types of accounts: “It’s difficult for an athlete to escape nowadays, especially when things aren’t going well. Social media offers a direct line of communication between players and fans, and Price uses Twitter more than most major leaguers, leaving him vulnerable to the Internet’s negativity.”
All of that is completely valid. It’s also completely valid that Price’s decision to continue with Twitter is going to be a positive one, as well.
Whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social media platform, the fact that fans can interact with almost any player makes it a ‘cool media’, as media guru Marshall McLuhan would have called them. The platforms allow fans to ask anything they want, without the reporters acting as their representatives, and the players have the choice whether to respond or not. That kind of interaction, even for only a brief moment in time, wins over the fans and creates new fanbases, tribes if you will a la Seth Godin, where other people can connect with each other because of the celebrity player being the catalyst.
All of this connectivity creates larger groups who, through multiple profit streams, will generate more revenue for the teams that house these players.
The drawback of social media is no different than old-fashioned media-scrum reporting. If a player decides to comment about anything to put himself in a bad light, it will cost him and his team, whether financially in the short term or the long term.
Like high school students distracted in their classrooms, players can also use social media at inappropriate times. Here’s an example of Pablo Sandoval getting in trouble from the Red Sox last season for such an act:
Sandoval’s careless act in itself is not a crime, but his timing made it bad. Which brings us back to the beginning of this discussion, dealing with what is really the problem.
Twitter doesn’t make you say horrible things to fans who may have disagreed with you or discussed a flaw in your game. Facebook doesn’t force you to say inappropriate things or leave vague comments for other people to misinterpret in a negative light. Instagram doesn’t obligate you to stare at pictures when you are too busy, let alone making you a slave to pressing the ‘like’ function. Humans choose to be a part of the social media trend and also choose how they use them.
The Red Sox should not be afraid of social media taking over their players. At least, no more fear than the fear of drugs or alcohol abuse. Many vices in this world are very addicting, and prohibition of said acts has been proven to be futile. The Red Sox need to think of Twitter like any other addictive case: if the player makes good choices with it, then there’s nothing wrong with it. The difference between a player eating himself out of shape and commenting poorly on social media is the same behavior.
Instead of banning social media out of fear, all professional sports teams should educate their players on public relations and the way to express themselves to the media. Wait, they already do that. Then what’s so new about all of this? The players should already know how to handle themselves. If they do something wrong on social media, they will do something wrong in a reporter scrum; it’s just faster for them to screw up using Twitter. The behavior is the same.