PLAYER PERSPECTIVE: SHUAIB WALTERS Follow on Twitter
Footballers around the world have found themselves in hot water over things that were said or implied on their social media accounts in recent weeks. This led to me giving this topic some serious thought.
Firstly, we must acknowledge that the things we post, no matter who we are will have an impact on our careers and the way people perceive us.
Social media has become such a huge phenomenon, and has become significant in building and marketing of the professional athlete’s brand.
This, however, comes at a price as being in the public eye has been magnified with the ease of access to players. Unlike before, our social media posts, good and bad are used as stories themselves. This means that even if people had missed a post, it is possible that they will find out about it since it made headlines.
It also becomes more difficult for players to be shielded from any negativity and abuse directed towards them.
I remember when I started playing professional football, I was faced with an individual that wrote negative things about my talent as a professional footballer on a weekly basis.
Being young and new to such criticism I went as far as to lookup this individual’s contact details and I contacted him directly. I had to learn the hard way that football is a game of opinions and everyone is entitled to theirs whether you agree with it or not.
More recently Ghanaian Elvis Manu was let go by his club because of his social media post in support of his old team. I personally feel that the outcome was perhaps too harsh, but at the same time it is also an eye opener to all professional athletes of the severity of social media content and the impact it can have on your professional career.
There are little or no guidelines of what is acceptable content available for most players. While some clubs have protocols and guidelines regarding social media, it has become important for all of them to educate players on social media etiquette as players represent not just themselves but also their clubs, their club’s sponsors and investors as well as their own sponsors.
There should also be education or coaching provided to players at club level, on how to deal with negative exposure on social media and how to determine what content or interaction warrants a response and how to respond. This is, however, easier said than done as some individuals can handle criticism and negativity in a professional manner and some cannot. Herein lies the bigger problem as we see veteran professional athletes taking to social media to rant about negative criticism and ending up reacting in an unprofessional manner.
My two cents for this week is that individuals should take social media more seriously and realise how powerful a tool it has become…..till next week!
This column is brought to you by Lotto Sports Apparel.