Walk into any high school principal’s office and they will want to talk about the football captain who is also a 4.0 student and the student government president. Walk into any high school locker room and you will see mostly jocks with the social grace of a parrot that just learned its first homophobic slur. Why do we expect our country’s best jocks to be so different?
The 2012 Olympics are being called the “Twitter Olympics” due to the role social media is playing in the games. It makes sense, given that Twitter has gone from 6 million users during the Beijing games to more than 140 million users now. What doesn’t make sense is the outrage the public has when an athlete does something dumb on Twitter. When you remove the media filter and let a jock talk about whatever they want, some of them will sound really dumb.
But, to make things safer for athletes and their marketability, they need to simply follow these rules.
Do you have some strong opinions on race? Great! No one cares
A Greek jumper was the Games’ first casualty as she was sent home before the Olympics started for tweeting “With so many Africans in Greece, the mosquitoes from the West Nile will at least be eating some homemade food.”
That has to be the most confusing stand anyone has ever taken on Twitter. Maybe she’s just just being overly hospitable by making sure the visiting mosquitoes found some cuisine to their liking. Or maybe she’s repeatedly supported a Greek party that says good things about the Nazis. Either way, limit the racially-tinged humor to visits with your irredeemable grandparents.
Don’t be lazy with your insults
Casualty two was a Swiss soccer player who handled the loss to South Korea with the maturity of a 14-year-old who just got pwned in Call of Duty. He tweeted: “I want to punch you, South Koreans, go burn” and then called them “mongoloids.”
Translation problems aside, this is definitely the most aggressive statement in Switzerland’s history but pretty lackluster in the creativity department. Really, race-related trash talk? Who could’ve seen that coming AT THE OLYMPICS? If you’re going to go down, you might as well go down swinging, but it appears the Swiss are even worse at insults than they are at soccer.
Be aware of current events
U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones has quite the Twitter following and she let her “tweeps” know how she felt about the archery team’s failure to secure gold.
Hilarious! What’s not to love? It’s not like this tweet came less than two weeks after one of the worst mass shootings this country’s history.
No pictures of your junk…
Does this need to be said? Don’t ever do it, because it will get released and someone will put it on Twitter. It never works out for anyone, just ask Brett Favre. Ask any one of the handful of NBA players that have been burned. Never send a picture. That way it never ends up on Twitter and blogs and won’t ruin your legacy.
Unless you’re a woman
I’m not saying this because I’m a guy, I’m saying this because it will make you famous. Brandi Chastain’s seared her name if she hadn’t taken off her jersey after her infamous goal. No one would ever have known who Kim Kardashian was if she released home movies about knitting instead of sexual intercourse.
Have a favorite homophobic slur? Maybe keep that to yourself
Amare Stoudemire was fined $25,000 for tweeting a slur at a fan. Larry Johnson was suspended a few years ago for the same thing. If you’re going to attack someone, at least class it up a bit.
Rape jokes aren’t funny to everyone
Oh, man, what’s not funny about sexual assault? You know, besides everything? A rape joke got mixed martial arts star Miguel Torres kicked out of the UFC (for awhile, at least, so he had time to think about what he had done). It only takes one rape joke to exile an athlete from the sex-crazed Olympic village to a reality where no one is impressed by how many flips you can do into a pool.
Don’t feed the trolls
The Internet is powered by negativity, so athletes have to ignore the haters. A British diver, who dedicated his performance to his recently deceased father, retweeted a troll who said “You let down your father with your performance.”
The diver’s fans attacked the troll but fortunately, when backed into a corner, internet tough guys act very maturely. Or they respond with cowardly threats, as the troll (who is a child) wrote “I’m going to find you and I’m going to drown you in the pool…” He was arrested shortly after.
The most distressing part of this story is that some people care enough about swimming to trash-talk their way to jail.