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