Sports

Athletes are engaging in a dangerous game off the field. And it’s a no-win situation

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb works in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sunday, July 29, 2018 in Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb works in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sunday, July 29, 2018 in Atlanta. AP

A former Dallas Cowboy recently shared his thoughts on a particular subject that affects all of us. And boy did he make some good points.

It was all about Twitter and social media.

No, I’m not talking about Dez Bryant and his sour grapes-inspired Twitter war with former teammates and the Cowboys organization. Instead, I’m referring to Jason Witten, the retired player soon-to-become Monday Night Football commentator, and his piece on ESPN in which he referred to the “locker room poison” that is Twitter.

Some players check social media — don’t worry, Instagram, Facebook and others, you’re part of this, too — during halftime. Some would quickly check to see what people were saying about them after games. And some would take it even further — think Kevin Durant on this one — and engage with these unknown trolls.

It creates headlines. It creates an online image of someone. And, as Witten wrote, it can create turmoil in the locker room.

Poison is right.

But that’s only part of the problem.

Wetzel mug.JPG
David Wetzel, The Sun News sports columnist Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

More and more players’ images are taking a hit when some of their old tweets surface. Some players — perhaps when they were younger and immature or not — have had homophobic or racist tweets surface years later.

One of the most recent examples was that of Atlanta Braves starter Sean Newcomb. He was nearly on top of the world Sunday, on the verge of tossing a no-hitter before losing it with one out to go. No-hitter or not, it was quite a performance.

However, that story was quickly overshadowed when it was revealed that he had skeletons in his closet. A Twitter user dug up some old tweets that included some racial and homophobic slurs.

There’s been others outed recently: the Washington Nationals’ Trea Turner and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, to name a couple.

I’ve got a message for each of them and it’s twofold: One, stop being racist or homophobic and be sensitive to others, even if your words are not meant to be taken literally. Two, quit posting your every thought to social media.

The thing isn’t your stinking diary. If it was, the whole world wouldn’t have access to your thoughts.

Bryant, for example, has reason to be triggered, many have said. However, putting his dirty laundry out on social media might be part of the reason he’s still unsigned.

Personally, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with social media. I think it can be a great tool, but it also can have a dark side. Anything you put out there can and probably will be seen at some point. And as has been proven with some folks, especially athletes as of late, that can be a very bad thing.

Yes, I admit we live in a world that is more politically correct than ever and at times it can be too much. But the old phrase “think before you speak” applies more now than ever.

Now you must think before you tweet. Or how about this: If you don’t have anything nice to tweet, don’t tweet at all.

Some of the old sayings that explain how to conduct yourself still apply, no matter how far technology has advanced. However, now it seems so much easier to be a jerk when you can do it while hiding behind a smartphone or computer screen.

Just stop. Do it for yourself and, more importantly, do it for the rest of us.

David Wetzel: @MYBSports, 843-626-0295

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