Years ago, in a speech to incoming NFL rookies, former Head Coach Herm Edwards made the following (in)famous statement, regarding social media: “Don’t press SEND!”. He was warning the new players to be careful with what they say or post on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media outlet; with them being sports athletes, their posts will be seen, and analyzed, by many more people than the average Joe. It is good advice for all – athletes, public figures, or not – to follow.
In the last 48 hours, public incidents in social media and in the general media have shown that Herm’s warning should have been heeded by more than just NFL rookies.
In case you missed the news earlier, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) terminated the “Legends” contract of Hulk Hogan, along with taking down and/or erasing nearly every mention of him from their website and network, following audio that surfaced of a racist rant against those who were dating his daughter at the time. Adding to Hogan’s problems, audio from a 2012 interview also surfaced that has been slightly overblown (the language itself might be offensive but, in Hogan’s defense on THIS one, he was explaining the usage of the ‘N’ word in both Miami and in WCW (with Booker T)); he is also involved in a $100 million law suit involving Gawker and leaked sex tapes. All 3 of these issues have led to the most famous professional wrestler in the world getting the “Chris Benoit” treatment from the WWE: being virtually erased in all facets, the big difference being that Hogan helped make the WWF (now WWE) what it is now and vice versa.
One that slipped under the radar this morning, with Hulk Hogan’s issues, is the firing of ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd. Cowherd, known for his love of the NFL, as well as his unique stances in sports, especially with large-vs.-small sports markets, had been the 10 AM – 1 PM host on ESPN radio for about a decade. He recently announced that he was leaving for Fox Sports Radio once his contract was up with ESPN before the end of the year. Unfortunately, he hit ‘SEND’, so to speak, on a recent broadcast, and it cost him his job earlier than he planned. Cowherd knew what he was saying, when he said it. The ‘my words were taken out of context” or “I didn’t mean what I said” arguments do not fly. When you say that a sport (baseball) is not a ‘thinking man’s sport’, then follow that up immediately with ‘a third of the players are Dominican’, you cannot possibly be so clueless to think that your statements come across as calling an entire country ‘dumb!’ He constantly
reminds reminded his listeners about his long tenure in TV, radio, and broadcasting; he didn’t learn how to revise a point he was trying to make… or learn not to make that point at all?
Perhaps the most ridiculous one is the latest in a way-too-long line of Twitter “beefs”. It started with a Tweet by Nicki Minaj, expressing her disappointment and frustration over not getting a “Best Video” nomination at the MTV Video Music Awards. Taylor Swift, misinterpreting Nicki’s message, pressed ‘SEND’ and started an internet “beef”. Even Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran chimed in before Taylor issued an apology, stating her misunderstanding.
Social media has made it so easy these days to type out any and everything that comes to mind. It has also made it too easy to broadcast these thoughts before common sense kicks in and you decide to perhaps wait until emotions have cooled before sharing said thoughts. Digital and audio media have also allowed thoughts, conversations, and practices that, in “analog” times, would have stayed in-house, to suddenly be recorded and shared with the digital world… often with consequences, especially if you are a public figure (see: Donald Sterling’s racist rants about his daughter’s choices, for example). In this day and age, you have better think before you speak or hit ‘SEND’. If you don’t, then your words and actions might come back to haunt you.