There was once a time in which athletes handled contentious affairs in quiet, before running onto the field of battle as one unit. There was also a time when working-class people could forget about their daily hardships—if only for a moment—to watch their hard-earned money go to players who appreciated them in return.
But today, things seem different.
The advancement of social media has given athletes an unprecedented platform to air grievances that should be professionally handled in-house. This in turn has created a polarizing culture at times between players and the fans that pay their paychecks.
With the Baltimore Ravens' iconic safety Ed Reed being the latest with a series of tweets earlier this week (one of them here), it is like some modern athletes are more resolved to using social media to create a circus to get what they want than to handle business like professionals.
Freedom of speech. I get it. This right is a critical element of what makes our nation the greatest nation on the planet. Fine men and women in uniform—and their families—have endured hardships to preserve this fundamental American right.
Yet with freedom of speech comes the civic duty to use social media responsibly. But today, at times, this is not happening.
And frankly, some behavior is nothing short of childish.
Team owners are also guilty. Don't get your way in contract negotiations? Hop on Twitter. Let everyone in the world know just how outraged you and your multi-million-dollar self are that you don't get no respect.
Serenade the masses with your violin that plays hymns of boo hoo. Maybe make an inflammatory comment about racism and discrimination to really rally people to your side.
In the meantime, the blood within those who endured the horrible wrath of Jim Crow laws nears the boiling point.
If Twitter fails, then maybe you can get your own reality TV show. What a better way to show the world what a misrepresented person you are than to go on national TV and prove yourself wrong. Perhaps you can send a Tweet while on your own reality TV show pointing to unfair treatment to achieve max effect.
Have an agent who tells you to stop sending inflammatory Tweets? This mostly because they are killing your reputation and everyone else’s around you?
Agent apparently does not have what it takes to get the job done. Fired.
Of course, many fans simply roll their eyes at athletes who unload propaganda via social media. But as sad as this is, there are others who absolutely love this stuff. They feed off it. They can’t live without it.
For some, it is like crack-cocaine for the soul.
This environment exists because some fans gladly swallow the poison these athletes give them without thinking twice.
As sad as it is, the funniest people are those so disillusioned by the very stars they support that they go to the end of the earth to defend them.
But there are other kinds of people who can't stomach this mess.
They are your normal, everyday working class people. They are people who go to work, wondering if this is the day they receive that dreaded pink slip.
They are men who have had their manhood stripped from them because they cannot afford to take care of their families in a struggling economy.
They are blue-collar grunts that put their lives on the line every single day, making less in one year than some baseball players make in one plate appearance.
You think people like this feel sorry for grown men who make millions of dollars playing a game?
Think GIs kicking in doors, not knowing if they'll ever see their newborn child say during rare reprieve, "Man you hear about so-and-so, he's only making 7.5 million dollars next year."
Think the police officer who just thanked his lucky stars after chasing a thug who just fired a weapon at them cries a wink for athletes who have lost all sense of reality?
Did someone say something about deaf ears?
To be fair to players, I know the business of sports can be dirty, and players can feel like pawns in games they once played for fun. And when players live inside this dog-eat-dog culture long enough, many can grow jaded. As fans often see with strikes and conflicts between owners and players it can suck the fun from the air—for all.
By all I also mean the players, who can grow battle-hardened by the sight of grown adults running over children for autographs.
The bottom line is that social media is a beneficial tool that athletes should use responsibly—not to scream to the high heavens about illogically unfair treatment.
If not resolved, it will continue to draw attention from the great deeds of other athletes who use social media for good, to include showing appreciation for their fans.
Worse yet, it may alienate fans from the very athletes who give them a break from the sometimes harsh realities of life—if only for a few hours.