Toronto Argonauts’ offensive lineman Rob Murphy has been fined by the Canadian Football League and the Argos for violating their social media policy by sending inappropriate tweets. Apparently Murphy, as @bigmurph56, wrote about “smelling foreigners this early in the A.M.” and that the “novelty of riding on a train thru Ontario and ‘Frenchland’ has worn out….get me off this damn thing!!!!” Don’t bother looking for the tweets. They have been removed from Murphy’s account. Same thing that happened to Murphy’s common sense. Removed.
This is the sporting culture we live in today. Professional athletes can speak directly to their fans or, in the case of Twitter, followers. When I began writing this, Murphy had 278 followers. At this moment, he has 301. See what happens when the CFL fines him and makes a stink? People become interested. Isn’t that the polar opposite of what the CFL may be trying to achieve? Or, perhaps it’s a grand CFL marketing ploy. You know, along the lines of their brilliant Hey-let’s-expand-into-Las-Vegas-and-Birmingham experiment. Or their massively successful Our-Balls-are-Bigger campaign. How about a series of Our-Players-are-Twits spots? I think I know who the poster boy can be.
Social media is a nightmare for leagues and the nerds who run them. Reason is, there is no filter. There is no one in place to ask the athlete, “Are you sure you want to say this? Are you serious about wanting this printed?” That’s what the media often does. Many years ago, in say the 1950s and ‘60s, sportswriters and sportscasters would actually keep athletes’ secrets. Big secrets. They would not report things they’d seen or heard for fear of alienating the same athletes who would provide them daily quotes in the locker room.
Even in the 1980s, I heard and witnessed things with Hockey Night in Canada that I would never have considered making public. Still won’t make them public. It didn’t make any sense because the players who’d been committing indiscretions were the same ones we’d want to interview at the next game. But those allegiances are mostly gone. Not completely. Mostly.
Now, the public wants to know everything. At least, that’s what the media have convinced themselves. Personally, I do not want to know everything. I do not care what Big Murph is thinking as he rolls through Québec on a train (assuming there is actual thought present). After he was busted, Murphy tweeted, “Obviously my recent tweets have gotten blown out of proportion. I’m sorry if I offended anyone by my recent comments. I was JOKING around.”
Blown out of proportion? They are your words, Rob! You wrote them. You sent them to the world. That’s like Tiger Woods standing up this week and announcing, “Hey everyone, you know those porn stars? I was just JOKING around!” Next, Murphy will claim to have been mis-quoted. Yikes, with social media, that old athlete crutch goes away!
The solution, of course, is to school athletes in the incredible dangers (no other word for it) of tweeting anything other than something you would say directly to a reporter or on live television. That would be your filter right there. But when athletes are allowed to self-govern and throw their independent thought out to the world, it often does not end well.
Now, Murphy is up to 307 followers. Based on his common sense, that’s about 307 more than he deserves.