Jason Reid of the Washington Post argues that Rashard Mendenhall's real problem this week was not necessarily his controversial views about Osama Bin Laden and 9/11, but expressing them on Twitter.
No time should be wasted contemplating most of Mendenhall’s ill-advised comments Monday on Twitter questioning Osama bin Laden’s guilt in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, whether two of the four jets hijacked that day actually brought down the World Trade Center and the U.S. government’s portrayal of the self-avowed terrorist ...
The ignorance Mendenhall and other professional athletes have exhibited about the impact of social media, however, is concerning. Their repeated poor judgment while tweeting, blogging and posting information on Facebook has often resulted in controversy, damaged reputations and public relations problems for ballclubs. Mendenhall proved his cluelessness about the powerful tool, and it’s time for athletes to finally realize that tweeting ain’t no joke.
Good point. You take a famous 23-year-old whose job is to run while holding a football and give him a platform to type little 140-character-max blurbs to a vast audience he can't see, and you're asking for trouble. (I'm not the first to make this type of observation about the Mendenhall uproar, by the way, but I can't remember who made it first.) People think stupid things, and there are a lot of us who might regret it if the world ended up caring about things we'd written on Twitter or Facebook. I think social media are probably also potentially more dangerous for athletes than being interviewed by journalists - at least with journalists you're usually just answering their questions, and you can see their reactions as you start to wander into dangerous territory. With social media, there are no reactions until after you hit submit.