In the wake of the Rashard Mendenhall / Osama Bin Laden controversy (and the subsequent Reggie Bush vacation controversy, James Walker of ESPN.com asks whether players should stay away from Twitter. The Steelers’ Ryan Clark recently shut down his account:
“A lot of times you’re sitting at home or sitting in a restaurant when you do these things, and you’re not paying as much attention that it’s going to go out to all the people that it does and be scrutinized in that same way,” Clark explained. “But every time you step in front of a mike or step in front of a camera, you know tons of people are going to have access to this. Tons of people are going to see it.”
That’s exactly the problem, I think. It’s easy to appreciate that you shouldn’t say something that will offend your fans when you have a mic in your face. When you’re just typing something on your cell phone, that’s different. I love that athletes use Twitter. But it has always surprised me that teams let their players use it. It can be very dangerous for players who let their guards down even a little, and Walker is right to point out that the fact it’s harder to discern emotional tone in messages typed in Twitter than it would be in other contexts.
I’m not sure how relevant that is to Mendenhall or Bush, of course – Mendenhall just said what he apparently believes. Bush said he was joking, but after getting in trouble for tweeting about being on vacation, he tweeted again today about not being able to find his remote. (For more on the Reggie Bush Tweetfest, check out Canal Street Chronicles.) But the pitfalls of Twitter are many.