Tag Archives: NFL

When professional athletes are unprofessional

27 Aug

Flying under the radar has never been Chad Ochocinco’s forte. The most prominent associations I link to this professional football player are his reality television stints on VH1 and Dancing with the Stars, his legal name change to reflect the numerals on his jersey, and his notoriety on Twitter. The latter of these redeeming qualities landed him in trouble last weekend when he tweeted not once, but twice, during a preseason game against the Eagles. Along with landing himself in hot water with the NFL, he also racked up a hefty fine of $25,000.

My only response for Ochocinco is an exasperated, “Really, Chad?” Did you not learn anything from previous incidents where athletes have been fined for using electronic devices during gametime? Are you not familiar with your league’s media policy? I understand you may want a break from your job. I text and tweet while at work, too. I’m familiar with the urge to stay connected to your network (although if I ran the risk of being fined thousands of dollars it would greatly dissuade me from doing so). This is not what confuses me. After all, this is Ochocinco we are talking about.

What baffles me is how one of the most watched athletes can so easily have access to a mobile device to broadcast a message during a period when the very instrument is supposed to be banned. If the league intends to impose such harsh sanctions for a tweeting offense, they should probably guard against these occurrences more carefully. Who the hell let him have access to a cell phone during the game? Really. Whoever allowed him to have the phone should at least share the fine.

Equally perplexing are the responses I’ve read defending Ochocinco’s actions. True, the fine was an outrageous one, but the bottom line is that he is paid to be an athlete and with this profession comes certain responsibilities. One of these includes following the league’s (his employer’s) policies. It wasn’t as if he was unaware that tweeting during a game was against league rules. He knew but chose to do so anyway (and if he didn’t know, he should have known). The weak defense that it was “only a preseason game” is also irrational. When an athlete throws on that jersey, it’s as good as clocking in to work. I wouldn’t want my employees purposefully disobeying corporate regulations, and I don’t want my favorite athletes to do so either (not that he’s my favorite).

Regulating the content of a public figure’s social media accounts is difficult. League and franchise officials can only advise so much on what is deemed appropriate to publish. Athletes are but humans and have the ultimate decision on whether or not to follow these guidelines and risk the consequences. However, the team and league can control, or at least restrict, when they tweet, especially in such a controlled environment as a league contest.

I know, these athletes are full-grown adults and should know better themselves. Need I remind you who we are talking about to convince you why these childproofing actions may need to exist? I hope not.