I appreciate that all people are entitled to freedom of speech, and it would be wrong to dictate what people should and should not do. Lots of celebrities use social networking as a way of keeping in communication with their fans to some extent. But for most celebrities, they are simply responsible for their own actions, and are not members, or ambassadors, for their club.
I should also say that I have enjoyed some of the twitter highlights concerned with footballers (Darren Bent’s illumination of his contract negotiations at the end of his Spurs career spring to mind), but purely from an entertainment point of view. However, in regard to how I perceive a player’s intelligence and attitude, I find it incredibly difficult to comprehend what possible positives can come from tweeting messages that should surely stay confidential.
Manchester United have obviously decided that they do not want to run the risk of Darren Fletcher telling everyone what he had for dinner over the internet, or Rio Ferdinand going back and forth with Robbie Savage with what every sportsman is seemingly in love with; ‘banter’, and so have deleted/banned/prevented all social network profiles that any of the players had. So if Wes Brown is still your friend on Facebook, chances are it’s a 12-year-old boy called Giles, rather than the United defender.
I can totally understand why United went through with such a procedure. Everything with professional clubs today is kept so closely guarded, why would you give players the opportunity to vent any frustrations, or make fools of themselves, through such a widely available and instantaneous avenue?
Changing sports (briefly, don’t worry) to Cricket, both Dimitri Mascarenhas and Kevin Pietersen have been guilty of expressing their anger over their bosses decisions through the form of a tweet. Pietersen had an issue with being dropped from the Twenty20 team, and Mascarenhas called Geoff Miller (the England selector) a ‘complete knob’ and ‘effing prick’. How did they think doing those things would help? The thing is, that they probably didn’t think. Whether professional sportsmen are not thinking , or making ridiculous decisions under the impression that they are doing the right thing, neither covers themselves, or their sport, in any sort of glory.
While they may bring amusement, the unsolicited updates by footballers can only cause problems for both themselves and their club. Players will always want to exercise any freedoms they have, small or large, minor comments or high-end prostitutes, depending on who they are. Clubs are surely aware, that left to their own devices, there are players that won’t toe the party line and have to be reminded that they are still employed, and paid vast sums of money along the way, to follow certain codes and protocols. Those are the same players that are susceptible to bleating something out that can damage the reputation or professionalism of their respective club. By cutting the danger off at the source, they can eliminate the possible embarrassment that it may cause.
Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe seeing these players making these posts and updates is an enjoyable thing, adding a bit of drama. And you’ve got to hand it to Bent, he got the move he publicly stated he wanted. I’d like to think I’m not being a jobsworth, and hope that players can understand that it doesn’t do them any favours. I’m going to tweet this article, maybe Darren will read it?
Follow me on twitter and pass this on to Darren Bent, if his account his still active.