Athletes Face A New Competitor: Old Tweets

By: Austin Banks

Numerous professional athletes have faced a great deal of criticism in 2018 for offensive old tweets from when they were teenagers have resurfaced. This seems to be constant as of late in the sports news cycle as an athlete will have recent success, therefore people will go and look up their old tweets from their teen years which have led to the findings of racist, homophobic and insensitive tweets from numerous athletes. The athlete then apologizes stating his regret and people move on as if nothing ever happened. This continuous cycle is seen with the players below.

Sean Newcomb: After losing a no hitter with two outs in the ninth inning the Atlanta Braves Pitcher didn’t arrive to the clubhouse to receive a congratulations on a dominating win but rather to be questioned for his offensive homophobic tweets from when he was 18. While Newcomb was on pace for a no hitter his old tweets began to surface on Twitter. Newcomb, now 25, responded to the criticism after the game by stating, “This is something that obviously can’t be happening. I feel bad about it. I don’t mean to offend anybody. I definitely regret it.”

Josh Hader: As the Milwaukee Brewer reliever took the mound to pitch in his first All Star game it didn’t go quite as planned for the 23-year-old as his old racist and homophobic tweets from when he was 17 began to resurface on Twitter. Hader’s family in the stands was eventually given blank gear to wear for their own safety due to his tweets going viral mid game. Hader responded to the tweets after the game stating, “I was 17 years old. As a child, I was immature. I obviously said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today. That’s just what it is.” The MLB called his past tweets “unacceptable” and took action by requiring Hader to complete sensitivity training and participate in the league’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.  

Josh Allen: Less than 24 hours before the 2018 NFL Draft, old tweets from when Allen was in high school began to resurface on Twitter. Allen was expected to be a top five pick in the draft but many people began to question if these insensitive tweets could affect his draft stock as the draft was only hours away. Allen immediately released a statement where he stated, “I’m not the type of person I was at 14 and 15 that I tweeted so recklessly. I don’t want that to be the impression of who I am because that is not me. I apologize for what I did.” The Buffalo Bills drafted Allen with the 7th pick in the draft.

Donte Divincenzo: After winning the Most Outstanding Player honor in Villanova’s NCAA championship win over Michigan, Divincenzo’s old tweets from when he was 14 began to resurface on Twitter. Divincenzo responded to the tweets after the game not with a statement, but by fully deleting his Twitter. When asked about the tweets Divincenzo stated, “It’s my account yes, but I never remember doing that.”

Ultimately, this is going to be a PR nightmare for sports organizations in the future as social media continues to grow. It appears many athletes are far too careless with their social media postings during their teenage years and leave it to resurface years later before they take action. While many organizations now require players to scrub their social media when they sign with their team or assign someone from their PR team to do it for them it is still not enough as once it’s on the internet it’s on there for life as seen with Hader’s tweets as they resurfaced even after the tweets were erased. Young kids idolize these athletes and when they see these negative insensitive things being said by their favorite player then they will believe it is normal and common. How can we hold these athletes accountable to help prevent insensitive tweeting from becoming a common theme in sports?

Twitter – @Abanks_11

This Article Has 9 Comments
  1. Erin Joo says:

    Great post Austin! This is an issue that seems to be coming up again and again. It is more important than ever to educate young individuals on how to responsibly use social media. Especially for students who will become their own brand when they become professional athletes. As we learned in class, social media is no longer private even if you have a private account or even delete your account. It really is a forever deal these days.

  2. Bodie Crist says:

    Hey Austin!

    This blog poses an interesting questions that I believe we will be able to watch shift and change as social media continues to cement itself as a staple of society. That being said, social media will change and adapt, and I’m sure that out attitudes toward social media will as well. I would like to believe that at a certain point people will learn from the mistakes of others and think about the repercussions of their words, but I won’t hold my breath.

  3. Jake Willard says:

    As a sports fan, this is has been something that has proven to be a big annoyance in sporting news. I get that its a journalists job to do their research, but this has become a trend where people just dig for the sake of digging up dirt. Especially when its around the pinnacle of a big moment for these athletes. It takes away from the main story and just feels unnecessary most of the time. But with that being said, everyone, athletes and people alike, should just take the time to delete the old crud from their socials already. How many people need to fall victim to this issue before everyone learns.

  4. Ryan Robledo says:

    I love this post because its a conversation my friends and I have a lot. We talk about how a lot of these racist and homophobic remarks these athletes make are always condemned by the public but easily excused with their leagues. The example of Josh Hader only having to endure sensitivity training for his remarks is a great example because it exemplifies the type of accountability these national leagues have towards their players. These scenarios bring up so many arguments like the dangers of toxic masculinity, how accountable we hold these multi-millionaire players, and much more.

  5. I think this is a really tricky subject that you explained well! It’s tricky in the sense that I definitely believe people can change and grow as individuals, however, some things are just too cruel to dismiss. I think the biggest thing here is that every situation is personal because it’s important to take into consideration three things: who said it, when did they say it, and what did they say. These three things are really the keys to understanding someone and their intentions behind an offensive tweet. I do not believe old tweets should come back and ruin someones life necessarily, but I do think it is important that if this individual has fans that they should know what kind of person they are looking up to in their entirety.

  6. Holly Walden says:

    Austin,

    I think this is something not only relevant to the sports world but also to almost every profession. I have no idea what is lurking in my social media but I feel like I need to do a deep dive on my socials. The scary think like you said is that once it is on the internet it is there forever. Deleting tweets may not erase it forever.

  7. Hannah Blair says:

    This is a great post! The power of social media can be a negative thing for athletes, especially when they didn’t think their posts through as teenagers. Being an athlete at the University of Oregon has taught me a lot about what is appropriate to post and what is not. Athletes are held to a higher standard, and that is just a fact. Social media can come back to haunt you if you are not careful about what you post.

  8. Matthew McGonegal says:

    Austin, thanks for a great post about a relevant subject. I think it would be worth mentioning some of the controversy surrounding Kyler Murray, former Oklahoma QB, and the homophobic tweets that “resurfaced ” the night he won the Heisman Trophy. The Washington Post faced some backlash for pushing this story because they were trying to stir up controversy on the biggest night of his life by drawing the attention to tweets he sent his freshman year of high school. Social media is public and no matter your standing, you shouldn’t be posting insensitive material.

  9. amador nazarov says:

    I think we have to tackle the issue at the source, educating kids that they cannot be posting inappropriate things from the early ages of their high school careers. The difference is that nowadays, kids are put all over social media and TV from such a young age that they know social media etiquette more than any other generation. I even had to tell my friends to erase some stuff that I know we both have said to each other on FB/Twitter recently!

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