Have you ever posted something and were reprimanded for it, either by a parent, coach, administrator? Social media has become a powerful tool that can be used to further a career or bury that same career under a PR catastrophe. With the public nature of social networks, the lightning speed of available information, and the rapid cross-posting across networks are all good attributes when they’re working for you. While you may not currently encounter the same repercussions as professional athletes and coaches, it is important to learn how to harness social media to your advantage before you end up as another headline.
Hefty fines are directly associated with breaking specific league and team social media rules. While these fines are usually given for inappropriate language, there have been other breaches in social media policy, such as the following.
– Don Jones, currently the strong safety for the Cleveland Browns, made disparaging comments during the 2014 NFL draft when openly gay Michael Sam was drafted to the St. Louis Rams. The fine amount was not disclosed, but also included a suspension from team activities until he attended sensitivity training.
-In 2011, Ryan Babel was fined $16,000 by the Football Association for posting a digitally altered picture of an official wearing a team jersey. The Football Association alone has charged 60 incidents of inappropriate social media activity, collecting almost $600,000 worth of fines since 2011.
-The Chargers fined Antonio Cromartie $2,500 for tweeting about “nasty food” served at the training camp.
-In 2012, Amare Stoudemire, formerly of the New York Knicks was fined $50,000 for using a homophobic slur in a direct message sent to a fan on Twitter while Matt Barnes (former teammate) was fined $25,000 by the NBA for inappropriate language on Twitter a year later.
-MLB umpire Tom Hallion and three Tampa Bay Rays players, David Price (former), Jeremy Hellickson (former), and Matt Moore were each fined $1,000 for tweeting their complaints over an alleged comment from the umpire and calling him a liar for denying the comment was made.
-J.R. Smith was fined $25,000 by the NBA for using “hostile and inappropriate language” on Twitter towards fellow player Brandon Jennings and another $25,000 for posting semi-nude pictures of a woman.
-Lastly, who can forget the tweet sent out from the Houston Rockets account that included an emoji of a horse with a gun to its head (symbolizing the Dallas Mavericks) with the caption, “Shhhhh. Just close your eyes. It will all be over soon.”
By and large, most of these fines were avoidable if the posters simply learned to practice good social media etiquette and watched what they posted. In some of these cases, the fines also came with game suspensions so it hurt their professional career as much as it hurt their pocketbook.