Social Media is a wonderful thing. It gives users a chance to broadcast their feelings to millions of people and engage with those that enjoy similar interests. Social media, in this case Twitter, is a powerful tool for athletes to use to engage with fans and usually it’s a positive experience. The Seattle Mariners learned on Thursday what happens when one of their athletes uses Twitter in the absolutely worst way.
ESPN reported this morning that Seattle Mariners backup catcher Steve Clevenger “posted a pair of inflammatory tweets” which can be seen here. The subject of the tweets are the recent events happening in Charlotte following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Of course as of this morning, Clevenger’s tweets are protected and the Mariners are exploring all “internal options” on how they can handle this undeniable PR disaster. In a statement reported in the ESPN article, Mariner’s General Manager Jerry Dipoto said that “While he [Clevenger] is certainly free to express himself, his tweets do not in any way represent the opinions of the Seattle Mariners. We strongly disagree with the language and tone of his comments.”
It’s unfortunate that this whole mess is blowing back on the Mariners and causing their PR department and their team headaches they don’t need, but it should serve as a reminder that athletes are spokespeople for their teams at all times. It doesn’t matter if they are riding the bench or the super star of the team everything they say will reflect back on the team.
So it’s important for athletes like Clevenger to know that yes, you are allowed to say whatever you want, but just know that those opinions will reflect back on the team and will most likely result in consequences for you. It’s no different than average people and their respective companies, if they put their place of employment on their social media they are ultimately serving as a representation of said companies. So if they post tweets such as those of Clevenger they will have to face the consequences.
So ultimately, Clevenger deserves whatever punishment the Mariners can give him for not thinking before he tweets. He’s allowed to say whatever he wants, but the Mariners are allowed to punish him for hurting the Mariners’ brand. Hopefully this whole situation will teach athletes to think before they tweet, because once it’s tweeted it can never be deleted.
UPDATE*: USA Today reported this afternoon that the Seattle Mariners have suspended Clevenger without pay for the reminder of the 2016 season.