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Remember The NFL Before Social Media?

There was a time when NFL players would be seen on television or in person and nothing more.  There was no internet.  There was no Twitter.  There was no Instagram.  NFL social media wasn’t a thing.  The emergence of the internet and all of these online interactive programs has resulted in a drama-filled soap opera of a National Football League.  Fans have access to read what players have to say at any given moment on Twitter.  We hear the arguments, the trash-talking, the cheering, and the belittling.  We’re also able to see what pictures NFL players deem necessary for all to see on Instagram.  My question to all of humanity is: What is the point of athletes exposing this excessive information?

Sure I can understand why people find it humorous to see Richard Sherman and LeGarrette Blount bicker back and forth.

NFL social media

But to me, the best athletes, those whom I lend the most respect, are the ones who just shut up and play the game.  Social media is a medium to boost your ego.  When it boils down to it, that’s all social media really is.  We enjoy posting funny statuses so that we earn a lot of likes and feel happy and accomplished inside.  We post videos of ourselves at concerts and bars on our Snapchat stories so we feel cool and well-liked.

In a nutshell, we love thinking that other people care about what we’re constantly doing.  Athletes are no different; they just have a camera on them almost all the time so that anything they say or do will be sent out and intensely scrutinized via mass media.  I feel bad for athletes, really, and I can see why so many of them feel the need to correct themselves, apologize, or speak up on some issues on social media.

None of this is would really be that bad, but NFL players take their fame to the next level.  Nowadays, it seems like players are posting about something personal (their divorce), something childish (why they’re so great and their opponents are garbage), or something lame (sappy or rude quotes directed at specific individuals).  All are created to fill temporary voids in their egos so they feel better about themselves.

NFL social media
One of DeSean Jackson’s Instagram pictures features this quote which was most likely directed at some of his teammates.

On the other hand, ever since the early 2000s, every NFL team now has their own website.  Fans have access to exclusive interviews, behind the scenes looks at training camp, late night talk shows, and more.  We get a feel for what our favorite athletes are really like – their favorite foods, hobbies outside of football, and different passions.  This is all cool stuff!  Team websites are the one thing that keep it relatively drama-free, positive, and interesting 100% of the time.  Whoever creates teams’ websites clearly realizes that we already have enough ridiculous drama in the NFL with stunts like Chad Johnson changing his name to Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens starring in his own TV show, and practically anything RG3 does in the media.

If football players really want to prove that they’re the best, they’ll make it count on the scoreboard on gamedays.  But typing snarky remarks at each other on social media is not the same as the sheer power of face-to-face interaction where we can actually detect hints like facial cues, tone, mood, and sarcasm.  Not all athletes are like this obviously, but enough resort to this sort of unnecessary off-field behavior for me to write an article.

If only I had grown up in the age where players were much quieter to the public and to each other.  There is little interest in the lives of attention-seeking millionaires.

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