Do sports teams need social media policies?

Aug 1, 2013 by

It was recently revealed that Cricket Australia is reportedly considering implementing a social media policy. This revelation comes after one of the batsmen became embroiled in a row with a couple of journalists on Twitter.

His tweets contained a number of expletives and the cricketer is now facing a hearing after being accused of breaching Cricket Australia’s Code of Conduct. Will his actions cause other sports teams to follow suit and consider social media policies? Do they really need them?

Make your own bed

When it comes to using social media, there are decisions being made by celebrities all the time that can easily be perceived as the wrong ones. They’ve posted inappropriate images, got themselves into abusive arguments and published views that they might have been better off keeping to themselves.

These are decisions that they make for themselves so it serves to reason that they will have to deal with the fallout themselves. If they want to write abusive messages to people, they will have to come to terms with the fact that they could be taking a huge risk. If their fans turn on them, they will only have themselves to blame.

Stop the trolls

On the flip side of that, should they really be allowed to run amok on the internet, writing whatever they please with no repercussions?

Of course, the press tends to make these people pay the price, but their perceived indiscretions are forgotten as soon as the next scandal hits. Does the old ‘sticks and stones’ saying still apply to online words? Even if nasty comments are deleted from the pages of online social media accounts, they don’t disappear forever and the impact can hang around for a lot longer.

Not the only ones

The problem with sports stars using social media as an avenue to mouth off to everyone they disagree with is that they are not the only person affected. A lot of them form part of a team, all of whom will feel the backlash to some extent.

If the star footballer of a Premier League team says something nasty to a fan, journalist or another player, his comments can reflect badly on his club as a whole. For tolerating that sort of language, it is tainted with the same brush. With that in mind, the rest of the players, coaches and everyone else associated with the club will feel the negative effects.

Having a social media policy in place means that a set of rules applies to everyone in the team. Nobody is exempt from them, even if they are the team captain or the biggest star. This creates a level of fairness in that nobody can differentiate from each other. Sports teams wouldn’t dream of running without a code of conduct or contract of employment in place, so why should a social media policy be any different?

If a sportsman uses aggressive or abusive language during the game, he runs the risk of being sent off, banned and getting a stern telling-off from the boss. Apply the same attitude to behaviour on social media and you can easily reduce the amount of negative comments flying around the internet.

Lauren Sutton is a brand journalist for Red Rocket Media, a social media and content marketing agency based in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Read more from the team on the company blog, or on Twitter @RedRocketMedia.

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