Thursday, 23 September 2010

To tweet or not to tweet - the new sporting dilemma

I enjoyed reading Owen Gibson's interesting article on the dilemma facing various governing bodies over the lack of control they seem to have over sports stars as they tweet their thoughts freely. Titled "There's trouble @Twitter" Gibson highlights some of the consequences when sporting stars decide to use Twitter to either convey information or truly let their feelings be known.

While Richard Cockerill has banned tweeting at Leicester Tigers and threatened violent redress to Jordan Crane and the rest of his team mates for what he saw as inappropriate tweet from Crane, other sporting stars have lost out financially from their tweeting indiscretions. The ECB has been busy lately with the Under 19 international Azeem Rafiq, Kevin Pieterson and Dimitri Mascarenhas. All have decided to use Twitter to express their thoughts on their masters. Rafiq has probably realised that it is not best as an upcoming player to call John Abrahams, the ECB's elite player development manager a "useless wanker". He was fined £500 and dropped from his captaincy position. Mascarenhas' view on Geoff Miller landed him a £1000 fine from his county as well as likely sanctions from the ECB.

For what might seem a fairly innocuous tweet, Stephanie Rice, the Australian Olympic swimming champion, has lost her sponsorship deal with Jaguar and her £60,000 car. It is somewhat ironic that her tweet that caused so much offence had nothing to do with her own sport but related to the recent Tri-Nations match between Australia and South Africa. Her tweet of "Suck on that faggots. Probs the best game I've ever seen!! Well done boys." was branded homophobic and gay activists have heaped criticism on her for the remarks which vilified homosexuals. Rice is no stranger to the potential pitfalls of social media use and in 2008 , snaps of her partying were deemed to be inappropriate with Swimming Australia banning all their swimmers from making their Facebook profile pages public.

In  late August, Chad Ochocinco, the Bengals Wide Reciever was fined $25,000 when he broke the NFL's rule which prohibits the use of Twitter during the pre-game and during the game itself. Ochocinco messages appeared on his Twitter page before and during the Begals v Eagles pre-season game. He then used his page to respond to his fine.

"@nflcommish Dad again I apologize 2 you for my tweet, as my father I understand you've to discipline, can we try timeout next time please :),"

"Dear NFL I apologize for tweeting during the game but that was 2 monthsof my Bugatti payments you just took from me,I won't do it again,"

So what about some of the most conscientious twitterers among the rugby fraternity. Two players based in Paris do seem to stand out as prolific users of Twitter.

Sebastien Chabel - the daddy of all rugby twitterers with 23,131 followers. The Racing Metro player has fully embraced twitter and also has his own website and an English translation twitter site - A recent tweet after a hard day at the office gives a flavour of Chabel's use of twitter - "Grosse journée aujourd'hui. Du physique, du physique et... du physique !"

Very much as an Englishman abroad, James Haskell's site provides regular updates on his life in Paris in what at times can be only described as self promotion which verges occassionally on narcissism. Some recent tweets include:

"A nice peaceful lunch on my own next to the river. I am wearing a stade vest and shorts, if looks could kill I would be dead"

"Dressed to dominate. I feel like a character from snatch. Who makes good smart shoes in size uk13"

As can be seen above, Haskell is a true multimedia twitterer!

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