Another Chapter in the Continuing Series of Social Media Gaffes in Sports

Despite a plethora of precedent in every sport, and examples made out of people of all ages and races, athletes around the world continue to show why they get paid for what the body can do, and not the mind. Less than a month into 2011, there were already numerous missteps by athletes in the world of Twitter. There continue to be gaffes, some offensive while others just absurd, made by professional athletes who still don’t understand the ‘social’ part of social media. Here are five more athletes who have made waves on Twitter and Facebook over the last month.

Cappie Pondexter views on the tragedy in Japan were met with much critcism

1. It is hard to start to talk about any story without mentioning what is the dominating news around the world: the devastation in Japan. Needless to say, there has been an outpouring of emotional, physical, and financial support from around the world, with a definite contribution made by social media. At the other end of the morality spectrum are those who express his or her right to free speech, even if that speech is blatantly malicious or ignorant. With that, I present to you WNBA player Cappie Pondexter. The guard for the New York Liberty tweeted on Saturday, “What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes.”

She also tweeted: “u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less.” What’s more, in her tweets she used a racially derogatory word for Japanese people.

On Monday she issued several lengthy apologizes on Twitter, likely motivated by a public relations team as much as her own volition, but that is up for debate. The apology reads as so many others have, seeking redemption from those offending and claiming that “people that know me” would attest to her compassion, etcetera. Regardless, Pondexter, like so many others, sent off her inflammatory yet however honest remarks to the online world, where they are forever etched in virtual stone.

2. Moving from that into equally uncomfortable territory is the story of NFL cornerback Kareem Jackson. The Houston Texan was on vacation in the Dominican Republic when he decided to tweet pictures of an event he was attending. Unfortunately the event was a cockfight. While in Texas cockfighting is illegal, attending one in the Dominican is not against the law. He need not make a formal apology, but his agent did, trying to make it seem as if cockfighting is of cultural importance since it has a history in the Dominican, and that Jackson was taken on a tour led by others. Once again, there is a record of these tweets, and despite not receiving punishment, Jackson has demonstrated both his youth and indiscretion in his latest acts.

A screengrab from Santonio Holmes' strange Facebook video

3. On to Facebook, we have the curious and potentially embarrassing case of pro-football wide receiver Santonio Holmes. It seems the Super Bowl XLII MVP wants to stay with his current club, the New York Jets. His contract is up, but he would like to reach a new deal. So he decides to express his confidence that the Jets will sign him by posting a video on Facebook during his 27th birthday party. He is in his room at his parent’s house, one that is fully decorated in Pittsburgh Steelers paraphernalia, but he says that once he signs back with his team, “everything will be taken care of,” whatever that means. The awkward, poorly created video is more a personal promotion for the WR than a request to be signed by the Jets. At worst it is simply embarrassing, especially if he doesn’t get resigned, something that is a very real possibility since they have other players to sign as well. It’s certainly not offensive or felonious, but an odd attempt at reaching out to people and his teammate; it seems almost like an acceptance speech for winning an award or making a big deal, something he has yet to do this off-season.

4. Continuing to move away from the serious, we have a far more lighthearted though still embarrassing social media faux-pas. Jordan Spriggs, a freshman defensive back for the Auburn Tigers tweeted this plea to the masses: “man who is good at writing papers?????????????? i pay.” Certainly not particularly bright (at tweeting or writing essays, it seems)Spriggs attempted to destroy the evidence (the tweet and account were both deleted,) but the message was seen and has lived on in retweets

Everyone's favourite Tweeter, Lebron James, never fails to proviude humorous fodder

5. Lastly, we have a most silly tweet, this coming from everyone’s favorite speak-without-thinking athlete, Lebron James. On March 2nd, he send this brilliant nugget out into the Twittersphere: “20+ games left in phase 2. I’m ReFOCUSED! No prisoners, I have no friends when at WAR besides my Soldiers.” Now, there were some who got upset that he compared playing basketball to war, but that isn’t the problem with the tweet. Certainly neither him or nor his teammates think sports are the same as war, no matter how ridiculous and narrow-minded athletes can sometimes act. No, it’s normal to become focused and gear up for a big game or part of the season, so let’s spare him the ridicule for that; especially when the best comes later. The tweet was days after home loss to the New York Knicks, the first of a stretch of nine games where his team, the Miami Heat, would play teams with winning records. Clearly James was ready for the contests, looking to play hard on the court and win.

Following James’ figurative call the arms, the Heat lost four more in a row, a total of five straight. Perhaps he wasn’t as focused, or re-focused, as he led followers to believe. James can tweet the tweet, so to speak, but can’t always walk to the walk.

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