February 4, 2011

Heat Index's social-media rules for athletes

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

We've decided that social networking - or anti-social networking for some people - is a blessing and a curse when it comes to our sports personalities.

Facebook and MySpace can provide a peek inside an athlete's life and thinking, such as when the Suns drafted Robin Lopez.

We checked out his MySpace page and found a lot of stuff there much more interesting than anything he's said in an interview.

We also noticed that he listed his interests "in order" and basketball came up behind drawing, writing, filming and volleyball.

Uh, oh.

Now, athletes have adopted Twitter as a means to connect with fans in 140 characters or fewer. It's a great tool.

But its unfiltered nature also can lead to what we saw when Jay Cutler sat out most of the second half in the NFC Championship Game. Other NFL players - some in this town - Twitter-bashed him for being a weenie.

Funny, it's precisely the kind of jump-the-gun mentality athletes accuse the media of practicing.

Anyway, we can forgive them. It's a new, digital age. Everybody is learning.

That's why we've come up with these 10 guidelines we believe every athlete should adhere to when letting their thumbs do the talking:

- If your team finished 5-11, didn't sniff the playoffs and finished belly-up last in the NFL's wimpiest division, do not question the cojones of a quarterback whose team is playing in the NFC Championship Game. #FACT.

- Do not attempt to break news, such as - let's just say - where LeBron James is going to play next, on your Twitter account.

Leave unsubstantiated rumor mongering to the professionals who work in the New York media.

- If you're going to get fined for what you tweet, get your money's worth.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, for example, paid a $25,000 fine for a 110-character tweet about an NBA officiating crew last season.

Cuban paid $227.27 per character when he could have ripped for 140 and paid just $178.57 per character.

- If you are going to make improper contact with sports agents while you are a college athlete, do not tweet about the party you attended at said agent's home over a long holiday weekend.

- Even if you aren't going to post about the party, it is not a good idea to pose by the pool with a bikini model who may very well post those photos on her Twitter account.

- If you are going to quit your team by, say, leaving the bench and exiting the arena while your team is in the midst of a game, this might actually be a good time to use Twitter to explain what you're thinking.

- If you cannot spell a word or if you do not understand its meaning or proper usage, do not attempt to use the word in a post. You're telling us more than you realize.

- Don't post photos on Facebook of the 65-inch LED 3D/HD television you got yourself for Christmas and mention you sure will miss it while on this East Coast trip.

- Do not Photoshop an opponent's jersey onto a game official and then post the photo illustration on your web page while suggesting the referee jobbed you (a Liverpool soccer player actually did this with a referee pictured in a Manchester kit).

- When in doubt, remember what your grandma told you: "If you can't tweet something nice about someone, don't tweet anything at all."

by Bob Young The Arizona Republic Jan. 25, 2011 08:15 PM

Heat Index's social-media rules for athletes

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