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Friday, August 26, 2011

Young athletes need to be aware of the risks of Twitter use

There are so many examples of the challenges of using “twitter” properly that it’s difficult to pick just a few.

But just recently, a well-known Canadian Football League player, Henry Burris of the Calgary Stampeders (who previously played for the Chicago Bears in the NFL), was alleged to have used some highly inappropriate language on his Twitter account.

Burris denied that it was him, the suggestion being that his account must have been “hacked” in some fashion.

As this story was unfolding, a Mississippi State NCAA football player was thrown off the team (and presumably saw his scholarship taken away) when he publicly blasted a coaches’ decision to redshirt him (which essentially meant he would sit out the upcoming college season and not play until next year) via his Twitter account.

Society has fought for freedom of expression, and that is a precious right.  And Twitter and related social media tools give everyone—whether in business, entertainment, politics or on a personal level—a wonderful opportunity to share views, opinions and express themselves in interesting and often creative ways about matters important and not so important.

But we all, especially young athletes in the public eye who may find this kind of freedom of expression platform awfully tempting, still need to understand the power of the words that we use and the impact—sometimes negative—they can have.

Unfortunately, those words will sometime boomerang back against us, and cause unnecessary harm.

In a world where communication has become almost too easy at times, when it comes to social media especially, it’s wise to think twice, and maybe three times, before we “hit” the send button…