These days, most professional sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL all have social media policies that define exactly when and about what its players, coaches and staff members can post on the Internet. The reason for those policies is no secret for many came as a result of some of the funniest athlete tweets and of course some of the most inappropriate athlete tweets as well.
One of the biggest fines for comments made on social media came not from a player but an owner in the National Basketball Association during the 2011 labor dispute. Micky Arison, owner of the Miami Heat, was fined a whopping $500,000 for a comment that the owners were not united in their demands, something the NBA didn't like one bit.
As much as that was unacceptable to the league, other athletes have offended their fans directly with jokes gone wrong or simply tweeting without a filter. NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne did just that when he remarked on his displeasure of seeing mothers breastfeed in public as did MMA fighter Forrest Griffin when he made a distasteful joke about rape.
These athletes and other important people in professional sports each learned that interacting with their fans on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook can be quite the double-edged sword. Play nice and the fans will follow your every tweet. Spout off and be prepared to pay a fine. If only the same rules would apply to everyone on social media.
NBA star Carmelo Anthony came under fire in August 2010 for a series of tweets he posted. After Kat Stacks, a groupie who has a fondness for rappers, mentioned Anthony on Twitter, he responded by offering $5,000 to anyone who could slap her and provide proof of the action. Despite a photo of a stack of cash in a subsequent message, according to Anthony's wife, LaLa Vasquez, the offer was only the result of someone hacking the Twitter account.
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Taking tasteless humor to the next level, MMA fighter Forrest Griffin lost a ton of followers, not to mention respect from fans, when he tweeted an awful rape joke. Griffin deleted the sour comment, then posted it again two hours later before removing that tweet as well. He went on to retweet replies he received criticizing the joke and informed fans that following him is a "privilege" before deleting all traces of the incident completely.
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After learning that he would not be admitted to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama along with the rest of the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, Delonte West had a complete meltdown on his Twitter page. He went off on the media, the Internet and anyone who was listening, talking about how his image issues combined with a divorce and legal issues forces him to sleep in his car. After he cooled down a bit, he deleted the tweets and apologized.
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In June 2011, NBA star Gilbert Arenas was fined by the league for using what he described as "bad words" in his Twitter messages. While it was not exactly clear what Arenas said, the NBA set a precedent for its players with this move. Arenas later cleaned up his feed, removing comments such as "morning twitter fam..i need me a slave to make me breakfast in the mornings..i guess yall might call them girlfriends...i'm hungry." and "I'm the only athlete that's never cheated on his girl…but I did practice a lot...to be good at anything u need practice... So my girl was the GAME and I had practice girls... cmon ppl we all know practice makes perfect."
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As perhaps the youngest athlete to come under fire for his tweets, Yuri Wright was a star high school cornerback from New Jersey that was heavily recruited by the Michigan Wolverines. That recruiting stopped in January 2012 when the school read some of his racially and sexually inappropriate tweets. He was also expelled from his high school for his comments.
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Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson learned the hard way not to interact with heckling fans via Twitter. In October 2009, he got into a heated exchange on the social networking site and used a gay slur in the process. Johnson even went as far to say "U (sic) don't stop my checks," something that proved to be false when he was suspended for the incident and forced to give up the $213,000 he would have earned had he played.
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Not that anyone asked, but Los Angeles Lakers player Shannon Brown felt the need to tell his thousands of Twitter followers in May 2011 that he definitely didn't cheat on his wife, Monica, with the wife of another player. No one really knew if this was a serious comment or him just goofing off but the short nature of Twitter messages didn't leave room for him to explain one way or another. Yes, the media jumped on this story and the simplicity of one tweet became a huge story.
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After seeing a mother breast-feeding in public, NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne took to his Twitter account to call the act "nasty" and call a woman who defended the practice a "dumb bitch." A few hours later, after his PR team thought better, he apologized for the breast-feeding comments and to the woman he offended.
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