Michael's Sports Blog

Athletes Bully on Twitter (Long Form Blog Post #1)

The use of social media has increased rapidly over the past few years.  One of the newer social media sites, Twitter, has become exponentially more popular.  Twitter is a computer program that allows the user to write about whatever is on his or her mind.  It can be seen as a tool to share updates about one’s personal life.

At first, I was against the thought of having a Twitter account because I didn’t think that I would actually use it.  However, I finally succumbed to creating my account last August.  I became fascinated by the fact that celebrities, athletes, sports analysts, newspapers, and even university professors had Twitter accounts. When I joined, I followed a variety of people so that I could be exposed to what different types of people were saying on Twitter.

Posts on Twitter are called “tweets.”  As a sports enthusiast, I found the most fascinating tweets to be those expressed by athletes.  I, a mere spectator, was now able to read about how these athletes think and feel throughout the day!  I became privy to their innermost thoughts.  Athletes mainly talk about the quality of their team practices and games, and even ask other viewers about what they thought of other sport’s plays. Most of the time they talk about themselves, but there are exceptions where some athletes go beyond themselves and critique other people.  The majority of athlete’s accounts are not private, so what they post can be viewed by anyone, even those without Twitter accounts.  These athletes don’t realize that they have millions of followers reading what they are tweeting.  Everything they say and feel is out there on the Internet for anyone and everyone to read.

Recently, Jay Cutler, the quarterback of the Chicago Bears, was injured while playing in the NFL conference championship game against the Green Bay Packers.  After his injury, he left the game in the third quarter.  Tweets about this action came fast and furious.  These tweets were for the most part criticizing Cutler for choosing to come out of one of the biggest games of his career.  Even though people did not know the extent of his injury, many big name football players tweeted negatively about Cutler’s decision to leave the game.

Jay Cutler

Maurice Jones Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars tweeted: “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee… I played the whole season on one.”  Darnell Dockett of the Arizona Cardinals tweeted: “If I’m on Chicago team Jay Cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room!”  Raheem Brock of the Seattle Seahawks tweeted: “Cutler…wut a sissy! This is the NFC Championship game! Guaranteed if it was Brett Farve..he would still be in the game!”  As you can see by these three comments, some uninformed athletes used their Twitter accounts to express their condescending thoughts about Cutler leaving the game.

One football player, Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals, tweeted his criticism over players using their Twitter accounts to complain about Cutler.  He said: “Turned on Espn and reading the tweets current/former players have sent out based on Cutlers injury. What if he’s really hurt bad. I’m sad.” Ochocinco was upset with these people for using harsh judgment against an injured player, and rightfully so.  I don’t think these players thought about how they would feel if someone wrote similarly negative comments about them for anyone to read.

Cutler was injured, but many people did not know the extent of his injuries.  They thought he was just being extra cautious by taking himself out of the game.  However, what people did not know was that Cutler actually had a grade two MCL tear.  I’m not a doctor, but I don’t think that it would have been very easy or even possible to play with this type of injury.  In fact, if he played with this injury I would think that Cutler could have done more severe, and possibly permanent, damage to his knee, ruining his future career.  Doctors said that there was no way that Cutler would have been able to come back in the game.

I hope those players who wrote demeaning comments about Cutler on Twitter are going to apologize to him now because it seems like he did the right thing by not coming back into the game.  In the future, when the Chicago Bears play against the teams of players who criticized Cutler, I’m curious to see how Cutler reacts to the players who made these comments.  Maybe he’ll just use his own Twitter account to comment on something he found wrong about their play.  Or maybe he will be a real man and concentrate on how he plays the game.

There have been other times where I have been on Twitter and seen athletes comment on specific players faults, like dropping a pass, missing a tackle, making an error, etc.  As a fan of these players, I could not believe that their colleagues would actually write these things on the Internet.  One of the problems with Twitter is that people tweet without really thinking about the consequences of what they are saying and how it will be interpreted.  The NFL spokesman said this about Twitter: “When used wisely, it is a great way to get closer to our fans.”  This comment suggests that athletes should use their Twitter accounts properly.  Athletes need to be held accountable for using Twitter inappropriately.  Therefore, there needs to be a certain set of standardized rules for athletes governing their use of Twitter.

Michael Dirocci brought up a great point that athletes expect certain things from the media when regarding certain issues, and should have to follow similar rules.  He said: “Hold off on criticism and name calling until you know the facts. It’s what athletes expect of the media.”  This would prevent athletes from creating their own negative publicity about their colleagues and their sport.  It is particularly harmful if one doesn’t have all the facts, like in the case of Jay Cutler.  If players don’t follow the designated rules, then they should be fined.

Larry Johnson, a football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, tweeted a few years ago about something relating to homosexuals, and was later suspended for two weeks by the league.  Antonio Cromartie was fined for tweeting about bad food, and Mark Cuban was fined for tweeting criticism of NBA referees officiating.  There are cases where athletes, coaches, and even owners have been fined for what has been said on Twitter, but so far little has been done specifying what you can and can’t do on your Twitter.

In my opinion, I think it is fine for athletes to have Twitter accounts as long as there are certain rules and guidelines that current players, former players, the coaching staff, and owners have to follow. All sports leagues must create regulations with rules and guidelines that will put a stop to any negative comments about players, officials, and coaches.  The latest incident regarding Jay Cutler exemplifies the need for enforcing professional conduct while tweeting.  The continuing increase in the use of social media requires negative comments about, and by professional athletes, to be banned before it affects the love of sports.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | NFL, Sports | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Michael Vick’s First Endorsement Deal Since Prison

Michael Vick and Dogfighting

It has been almost four years since Michael Vick was put behind bars for being involved in a dog fighting ring known as Bad Newz Kennels.  Before the incident, he endorsed many big name products, including Nike and Coca Cola.  After he served time in prison for the dog fighting incident, companies were scared to use Vick to endorse their company until now.  Michael Vick has signed a two year contract with Unequal Technologies to endorse their football pads.  This may come as a shock to people who still see Vick as a horrible person for being involved in animal cruelty.  However, there are also people out there who believe that Vick is a changed man.

I personally think that it is too early to give Michael Vick an endorsement deal.  Unequal Technologies is taking a risk by signing Vick to a deal because people may steer clear of the product with a former convict advertising their product.  Even though he says he is a changed man after prison, I still have the image in my mind of him being involved in an illegal dog fighting ring.  I’m sure he has learned his lesson, but I think that companies should wait at least another year or two before they endorse Michael Vick for their products.  This way, by then, hopefully all will be forgotten about his past.

January 26, 2011 Posted by | NFL, Sports | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carson Palmer Threatening Retirement if Not Traded from Cincinnati Bengals

Carson Palmer

An article that caught my attention over the past few days related to Carson Palmer, former USC Trojan, Heisman Trophy winner, and number one draft pick.  He expressed his distaste for the Cincinnati Bengals organization by stating that he will retire if not traded from the team.  When reading Chris Mortensen‘s article that first reported the news, I could not believe that this was how a player of Palmer’s caliber would act.  I have never heard a player say that he would rather retire than come back to play for a team.

I know that the Bengals have not been exceptional in the last few years, but to say that you’d rather retire than to play for the Bengals again is a slap in the face to the team.  The Bengals were expecting to have a big year this past season, however, the team underperformed and ended up with a 4-12 record.  During his time in Cincinnati, Palmer has also had to deal with the “T.Ocho Show,” Chad Johnson legally changing his name to Chad Ochocinco, Chris Henry’s death, and many other stupid incidents by players.  I guess Palmer is fed up with the teams inability to do well with the talent they have, but this is not the way for a grown man to react to the situation.  I can’t say that I wouldn’t have been fed up with the organization myself, but there was definitely a better way to handle the situation.  I would expect better from a Trojan.  Palmer should have first tried talking to the owner or coach of the team in private to see if anything could be done, instead of publicly stating that he would like to be traded.

The team could follow his demands and trade him to teams looking for a quarterback, or they could not trade him and see if he actually follows through with retirement.  Yahoo Sports writer, MJD, reported that “Bengals owner Mike Brown pretty much dared him to go ahead and retire.  He said, through the Bengals feed on Twitter, that they had no plans to trade Palmer.”  Although teams are interested in acquiring Palmer, it looks like the owner is not willing to part ways with the quarterback.  With this statement by the coach of the Bengals, it seems like Palmer has a major decision to make regarding his future.

Chris Mortensen stated: “Sources familiar with Palmer’s plan and mindset said he is financially secure for the rest of his life and willing to follow through and retire.”  This statement shows that Palmer’s threat of retirement is not just to try and force a trade to another team; he will actually retire if not traded.  I cannot believe that Palmer would retire rather than play in the NFL for another season with the Bengals, but we’ll see how things turn out in the next few weeks.

James Walker, an ESPN blogger, talked about his thoughts of how the retirement or trade of Carson Palmer would affect the Bengals.  I agree with him that this news will definitely have a major impact on the team for next season.  Free agents may choose not to come back with the departure of Palmer, and the Bengals will have to draft a quarterback in the upcoming NFL draft.

January 25, 2011 Posted by | NFL, Sports | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Conference Championships

Last week I predicted that both six seeds would make it to the Super Bowl, however, only the Packers advanced.  This is now the second time that a six seed has made it into the Super Bowl.

In the first game of the day, the Packers injured the Bears starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, which made it hard for the Bears to gain enough momentum to win the game.  The Packers ended up winning the game by seven points, and seem to be the hottest team in the NFL right now.  They have won five games in a row, and the sixth would win them the Super Bowl.  Many analysts doubted that the Packers would be able to make the Super Bowl with the loss of Ryan Grant (their starting running back) in the first game of the season, yet here they are.

In the second game of the day, the Steelers jumped off to a big twenty-four point lead in the first half.  The Jets tried to come back and brought it close, but the lead was too much to overcome.  The Steelers ended up winning the game by five points, advancing them to the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl will be held February 6th, and I am predicting that the Packers will win the Super Bowl 21-20.  This will be a defensive battle, but I think that the Packers will prevail.

January 24, 2011 Posted by | NFL, Sports | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

USC Basketball Game Against Stanford

I just came back from watching the USC men’s basketball team annihilate Stanford by twenty-three points.  This has been an up and down season for USC basketball.  They are an inconsistent team, beating a ranked team and then losing to the bottom teams in the Pac-10 conference.  However, one thing that the team is good at is winning at home.  Of the eight losses, only two have come at the Galen Center.  The team has talent and can make it into the NCAA tournament, but just needs to play with more consistency if they are going to be able to accomplish that goal.

January 21, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Divisional Playoffs

The weekend started off with eight teams, and by the end of Saturday and Sunday, four teams were left.  The New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears won their games and will move on to the next round.  The Jets will play the Steelers and the Packers will play the Bears next week.  The two matchups feature a number two seed versus a number six seed.  Who would have thought that two six seeded teams would be able to make it this far in the playoffs?

There has only been one time that a number six seed has made it into the Super Bowl.  We’ll see how the games turn out next weekend in the Conference Championships to see if none, one, or both six seeds advance to the Super Bowl.  I believe that both six seeds, the Green Bay Packers and the N.Y. Jets, will make it to the Super Bowl, which has never happened before.

January 17, 2011 Posted by | NFL, Sports | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BCS vs Playoff System in College Football

One of the major headlines in sports over the past week was Auburn winning the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship game over Oregon 22-19.  This left Auburn undefeated for the season and deemed them the best team in college football.  However, there was another team that also went undefeated during the season, Texas Christian University.  TCU won their BCS bowl game to stay undefeated, yet were not the best team in the country because they did not win the national championship.  They were ranked lower in the polls because they played in a weaker conference than Auburn and Oregon did, so they did not have a chance to play in the national championship game.

For years there has been debate over whether the BCS ranking system works, or if there should be a playoff system.  The BCS system uses the Harris Poll, USA Today Poll, and computer rankings to determine the teams to play in the national championship game.  In a playoff system, teams would be able to play each other until the best two teams were left, who would play in the national championship game.

I am an advocate for the playoff system.  This year TCU did not have a chance to play Auburn to determine who was actually the best team in the nation.  Although TCU had a perfect record with Auburn, only Auburn will be remembered as the national champions during the 2010-2011 college football season.  The reason this occurs is because the BCS will not allow TCU and Auburn to play against each other after both finished the season undefeated.

One of the most indicative cases of why the BCS system does not work was in the 2006-2007 college football season.  Florida won the national championship game that year against Ohio State and both teams ended the season with one loss.  There was one team, Boise State, that ended the season undefeated.  The BCS system failed in allowing Boise State to prove that they were the best team in the nation.  The team that was crowned the national champion had one loss even though Boise State had no losses.  If there were a playoff system, Boise State and TCU would have had a chance to show if they were actually the best teams in football during those years.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Football, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment