140 characters doesn’t seem like much. That’s probably because it’s not. In these first three sentences alone I've exceeded that amount by 12 characters. And so, its too long for a tweet.
But in 140 characters or less, irrefutable damage can be done to one’s image and doors can be closed. Just ask Yuri Wright.
A four-star recruit according to rivals.com, Wright sent out countless tweets that came off as racist and degrading to certain ethnicities along with sexual innuendos.
Occurring over a six-month span, Wright was repeatedly warned about his risqué tweets. The issue came to a head when he was expelled from Don Bosco Prep on Wednesday. The University of Michigan has also rescinded his scholarship offer.
While no one is going to condone what Wright thumbed out, it’s put the senior in high school in a precarious position. Many adults have scribbled regrettable things in note pads while in high school. And for this generation, Twitter is the equivalent of that.
As a 23-year-old stuck between those two generations, I’ll be the first to admit that social media is very useful.
But for Wright, and other athletes of his ilk from high school all the way up to the pros, there seems to be no benefit to Twitter. There’s the antagonizing from fans hiding behind a keyboard and situations like Wright’s.
What Wright did was most likely in jest. He’s a 17-year old kid having some fun, spelling out what goes through a 17-year-old’s mind 140 characters at a time.
There's no filter on Twitter. No warning before you hit send asking the user "are you sure you want to send this?"
And the inappropriateness of some tweets doesn’t change as these athletes get older.
Former Piscataway High School and Rutgers' standout Anthony Davis was told by the 49ers that he needed to stop with his profanity laced tweets.
To Wright’s defense, his account was locked, meaning only those he gave permission to follow him could see his tweets.
This is also a young man who’s harassed by recruiting analysts, looking to get the inside scoop of where he wants to play college ball. That’s what I feel is a major issue with these young athletes, but I digress. The point of bringing that up is that with such attention, these kids already have a skewed perception of reality.
So maybe Wright thought his tweets were harmless and in good humor. Or maybe he tuned out when his coaches would tell the team to watch what they tweet because there’s ways anyone can see it, even if you do lock your account.
Whatever the reason, Wright’s tweets have gone viral and he’s now seeing the repercussions. Situations like Wright’s aren’t atypical. That’s why several college coaches — like Ohio State’s head coach Urban Myer — have banned their players from using Twitter. It’s only a matter of time until more follow suit. Wright’s situation is one of many that brings to light the topic of social media and its pitfalls.
And as a 17-year-old kid, there’s no reason he shouldn’t get a second chance. Right now, it looks like the other three schools he’s mulling over — Rutgers, Notre Dame and Colorado — will give him just that.
But a query still remains. In a world where social media is king, what benefit, if any, does it even have for athletes?