Three things led me to this week’s post topic.
1) My favorite athlete, Mike Green, launched his own website.
2) I had a chance encounter with the New York Yankees.
3) The NFL’s ruling on Twitter & Facebook.
Since we are living in the Internet Age, it’s only natural to go to the ‘net for everything we need. Athletes are no different. We are all guilty of googling our favorite athletes at one time or another, and I’m sure we weren’t just looking for stats. We were looking for personal information. Think about how much of your personal info is available to anyone online. Now double, triple or quadruple that, and that’s about how much info you could possibly find on any given athlete or celebrity. And sometimes, those same people are putting that info out there for us to find.
Follow me after the jump where we talk about Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Oh, and I’m sure you all want to hear about my run-in with the boys in pinstripes. ;-)
First, I need to discuss Mike Green’s website. “Over-the-top” is the only phrase that comes to mind. The blinged out logo, the rock star photo-shoot and the fairly amateur design make the site scream cheesy to me. But I like the cheesy. Not many hockey players show their personalities, and I’m lucky to have quite a few play for my favorite team. It’s nice to know that your favorite player wants to be accessible to his fans. Mike has promised his fans a blog and a Twitter page, and you better believe I will be one of the first to check for updates every day.
Lots of guys have their own blog and website. Games Mistress brought to my attention the blog of Pat Neshek, who is an avid autograph and baseball card collector. His site is very fan-centric, and it looks like a site I built on geocities back in the day, but that’s beside the point. I spent a good hour or more surfing around it yesterday. It was refreshing to see that athletes are normal people like the rest of us. What sports fan didn’t collect baseball cards or autographs at one time?
By putting themselves out there online, athletes are inviting the fans into their lives. Or at least that’s what fans think when they see them on the streets. The Yankees have been in Baltimore the last few days, and the other night they were all gathered in one place for some team bonding. Of course, Yankees congregating in public will draw a crowd. And what a crowd it drew!
I’ve been around baseball players and athletes my whole life. I see O’s players around Baltimore all the time. I’ve even seen quite a number of guys from visiting teams. They’re normal guys (for the most part). This night was a little different because it was the Yankees. Some of their fans were already at the restaurant, and once they got word that the team was in the building, these fairly normal fans turned into rabid paparazzi!
The guys couldn’t go to the bathroom without a security guard clearing it out first and then standing guard during their – um – visit. The fans that were there called their friends and pulled out their cell phones and cameras and attacked! They camped out at all the exits, and when the guys left, all you could see were the flashes of cameras. I’ve never seen anything like that before, at least when athletes were involved. These poor guys could barely enjoy a nice evening out on the town with their friends because we, the fans, want more from them.
This brings me to social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook. Between the blogs and social network sites, these guys are practically inviting us into every aspect of their lives. Not only do we get to follow their every move at their jobs, now we can follow – literally – what’s happening in their personal lives, as well. Who doesn’t follow Ochocinco or Shaq on Twitter? Not all athletes tweet what they had for breakfast, but we still know if they’re at practice, hurting, watched a good movie, etc. The Internet has turned what was once personal information into common knowledge. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discussed an athlete tweet with co-workers. I’m guilty of frequenting the site http://twitter-athletes.com/. It’s a site that follows every single athlete from every sport imaginable. It compiles all their tweets in a real-time feed. I love it! It’s definitely a guilty pleasure, especially since I can’t access Twitter at work, but I can use that site. And speaking of guilty pleasures, let’s not forget reality shows. T.O. I’m looking at you!
The NFL recently updated its policy on Twitter and Facebook for coaches, players and officials. Basically, officials are prohibited from using any of these mediums at all times. Players and coaches can update their Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses up to 90 minutes before kickoff and then cannot access the sites again until after media interviews have finished after the conclusion of the game. They can’t even have people – agents, family, friends, etc. – updating their personal accounts during the game.
So where am I going with all this, you ask? Well with all these things happening within a 3-day span, I saw the good and bad of the age in which we are living. While I love that I can just go online and google info on my sports crush, I sometimes feel guilty ogling hot pictures of him and reading about his personal life. As fans, we want more, and these regular Joes with extraordinary talent try their darnedest to please us. This week made me look at it from another angle – we want, they give, but why do we expect more? It just doesn’t seem right. So I’m going to pose some questions for you to ponder or answer in the comments. Are these athletes asking for all of this extra attention by putting their life out there for us to read? Do they really owe us more after giving us more than we asked for to begin with? You be the judge. Obviously the NFL wants to protect their coaches, players, officials and itself. After this week, I honestly feel for these guys. They deserve to live a normal life. Personally, I feel we should be happy with the inside info they provide us and leave it at that. What do you think?