Professional athletes in today’s world are in the public eye more than ever given the incredible impact of social media. This week Johnny Manziel was demoted from the Cleveland Brown’s starting quarterback position to a third string option when a video surfaced of him partying in Austin, TX during the Browns bye week. On Wednesday night, a video surfaced of the Philadelphia 76ers star rookie, Jahlil Okafor, getting into a street fight in Boston and knocking a person to the ground.
By this point, understanding the impact social media can play should not be considered earth shattering news to anyone. As pictures that surface on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram can have harmful effects for any professional whether it be in finance, law, medicine, education … you name the career field. In this day in age, people can very quickly snap a picture or video and send it out to the world that could have ramifying effects.
After the 76ers lost their 16th straight game, you can understand why the likely Rookie-of-the-Year winner, Jahlil Okafor, was frustrated. A source close to Okafor said someone on the street mentioned, “the 76ers suck and you guys are all losers. You’ll never win a game …” This evoked the following reaction from Okafor:
Obviously, an incredibly immature and irresponsible reaction on Okafor’s part that probably should have resulted in an arrest for assault. Time will tell what sort of punishment he will face from the 76ers but hopefully this will serve as a wakeup call for the young 19 year-old as to do’s and dont’s as a professional.
Johnny Manziel or “Johnny Football”, on the other hand, has been involved in numerous off-the field incidents involving partying that stems back to his time at Texas A&M. Coming from a family of substantial wealth, Manziel has done what he has wanted since the beginning and is now quickly learning how its effecting his professional career.
One week after being named the team’s starter, Manziel was demoted to third string for Monday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens after this video surfaced showing Manziel holding a bottle a champagne in a club during the team’s bye week.
Professional athletes are celebrities who are constantly in the limelight. Just as they’re expected to keep their composure on the field or court, they are expected to do the same off it as well. They are commodities that are paid millions of dollars a year to represent their organization. Today, there is a growing trend of more and more GM’s putting considerably more stock into researching players’ off the field habits and lifestyle, before investing that amount of money into them. It stems down to the collegiate level as well, where you see more and more college coaches checking their high school recruits’ social media profiles before offering them a scholarship.
The days of simply being “good enough” or “not having the rules apply” are over. Athletes, at all levels, are in the public eye to a certain degree, so making smart decisions off the field has become more important than ever with the increasing accessibility of social media.