Charles Barkley: More Influential as a Player or Announcer?

Tomorrow marks the start of the NBA Finals (Go Thunder!). One of the sideshows at the NBA’s highest stage is Charles Barkley, all time great power forward turned NBA pundit. Given Sir Charles’ stature as a nationally renowned loud mouth and current public weight loss, one has to ask, is he more influential now than he was as an NBA MVP?

Consider the evidence. The below Nike ad epitomizes Charles Barkley in his playing days, a man who was trouble on the court, difficult for the media, and held no regard for the expectations of proper NBA player behavior. When criticized, he shunned the role model moniker.


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The Ridiculous State of Sports Social Media

38pitches

When Curt Schilling launched his epic blog 38 pitches depicting his view of baseball and the media, it seemed like a turning of the tide. The Fifth Estate had arisen in sports holding journalists accountable. 38 Pitches turned Schilling from a media goat into a newsmaker and source, and after retirement he has become an ESPN analyst. However, his legacy has not carried over to his professional brethren. Instead, professional athlete social media has become the laughing of the interwebs.

There is no better example than former White Sox and incoming Marlins Coach Ozzie Guillen, who seems to set himself up for national lampooning every month. Just this week he mistakenly posted a blog that he had been hired by the Marlins BEFORE he had been officially released by the White Sox. His Twitter rants are legendary.

But make no bones about it, this kind of amateurish buffoonery extends beyond baseball. Whether its Lebron James whining about criticism on The Decision or Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall defending Bin Laden, we’ve seen many questionable public statements from the men and women children our society pays millions of dollars to play games.

Twitter seems to be the preferred choice for professional athletes, likely because of its brevity, which can empower even the least literary of minds. it’s so bad that ESPN runs a weekly #Follow Friday mobile column depicting the week’s worst 10 professional athlete tweets. Here are some examples:

  • Lolo Jones @followlolo, Followers: 30,946, Sample tweet: “you got your talent from me not your mom because I used to outrun the cops and hurdle fences #dadquotes”
  • Jesse Holley @Mr4thAndLong, Followers: 13,065, Sample tweet: ” Leavin Ihop: Guy walks up 2 me & says “You Ever Wonder What If u Dropped that ball” (in my Swaggdaddy-ish voice I reply) Nawww & walk off!”
  • Metta World Peace (The Athlete Formerly Known As Ron Artest) @ronartest, Followers: 154,671, Sample tweet: “I like metta World Peace Ron Artest is a jerk for planking in the middle of the street on a toilet!!”

Granted, what we are seeing is very authentic, and really provides a glimpse into the trash-talking world of professional sports. It also shows us how poorly prepared athletes are to function off the court/ice/playing field.

Much has been said about how athletes get a free ride in college with little to no focus on education. Certainly, we are seeing some truth to that. But we are seeing a big failure on the part of professional sports leagues and teams. They would do both their brands and players a service by providing social media training in addition to whatever coaching is provided on interacting with the media. Perhaps this will change as more and more athletes show how disconnected they are from reality.

In the interim, enjoy the laughs!

What do you think of athletes and their use of social media?