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Athletes And Agents Need To Learn How To Properly Use Twitter

There has been a lot of discussion this week regarding the Kansas City Chiefs releasing their once-upon-a-time star running back, Larry Johnson.  Did they release Johnson because he has not done anything special for the team in quite some time?  Probably.  But did his recent Twitter outburst have anything at all to do with it?  I’d assume it played some sort of role, or at least made it much easier for management to give him the pink slip.  larry johnsonLJ insulted his coach and then resorted to using some pretty foul language in a back-and-forth conversation (if you can even call it that) with some others on Twitter.

Larry Johnson is not the only athlete who needs a lesson on social media best practices.  There are many others who have the potential of being in his shoes, or worse, in the future.  It is very easy to write a 140 character (or less) message and click send, immediately blasting those words to the world.  That is why it is so important for athletes and their agents to be very careful in implementing a solid social media policy.  Speaking of agents…

Agents also have to be careful about what they tweet.  Their words do not only reflect on their own image, but affect their clients as well.  If an agent is posting controversial tweets, it could affect the way that others perceive him and his clients.  Agents are known to frequently tweet about their clients (as a side note, we are putting together a master list of sports agents on Twitter.  Follow that list by clicking here.), but rarely do you see an agent talking bad about another person’s clients.  Especially when the player is a direct competitor of your client.  It just seems like a bad practice.

walshA few days ago, though, Allan Walsh (@walsha) did just that.  The hockey agent for Octagon who represents Montreal Canadians goalie, Jaroslav Halak, tweeted:

“Interesting stat of the night….Price is 10W, 32L in last 42 starts. Hmm.”

Walsh was referring to starting goaltender, Carey Price.  The tweet has been deleted from Walsh’s account since the it was covered by various media outlets.  It is not that Walsh is right or wrong about his statement, and he is definitely entitled to his opinion, but perhaps it is better that he keep that opinion to his close friends and not share it with the world on Twitter.  It got Walsh a lot of publicity, but that is not our goal as agents; it is doing the best for our clients.  Does the tweet help out Halak at all?

Walsh responded to the criticism he received from the tweet with the following statement:

“It was a tongue in cheek comment not meant to be taken seriously, forgot it was Montreal and everyone loses a sense of humor.”

I tweet about athletes who are not my clients, and sometimes I may even make jokes about them.  But I have never written a bad tweet about a direct competitor of one of my clients.  For instance, I would not tweet about how poorly another reliever was doing on the AAA Memphis Redbirds squad while Pete Parise was the closer.  That type of discussion is better reserved for talks behind closed doors with management.  The point will still be heard by the other side of the table, without the additional public embarrassment for all parties.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

8 replies on “Athletes And Agents Need To Learn How To Properly Use Twitter”

With the crazy growth of Twitter, everyone needs a little lesson on social media best practices — not just the players.

Team management should take what they see on Twitter with a grain of salt.

For example, I’m pretty sure this is NOT the Twitter page for the Captain of the Calgary Flames:

So, just because you read something on Twitter doesn’t make it true. (I’m not suggesting this is the case with Larry Johnson — I have no idea).

Plus the players should be really careful, as you mentioned. Everything you put on the internet stays up forever. And most sponsors won’t be happy to be associated with foul language and personal issues on a Twitter account (even if it’s not recent).

Great article Darren. You’d think that the athletes would soon have PR people screening their twitter accounts. And as for agents – I can definitely see how promoting clients by showing poor personnel decisions by management can be a risky move.

One thing this article overlooks is the extreme hyper-sensitivity of the Montreal media towards any issue having to do with the Canadiens. It may have been ill-advised, but Mr.Price is a big boy I am sure he can handle it.

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