Professional sports teams treat the powers of social media -- good and bad -- quite differently. Some attempt to have more control over their athletes than others. But usually the underlying message is: use common sense when posting on Twitter.
Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said via e-mail that the organization educates players about the "benefits and pitfalls of social media" at the start of training camp and follow up during the year with a "constant dialogue" that "can involve Coach [Leslie] Frazier, if necessary."
But with Twitter so widespread, instant and -- thanks to photo and video sharing -- delightfully dangerous, we have to wonder when more teams (or even leagues) will attempt to gain more control over what is posted. Nationally, we just witnessed another example of something that really shouldn't have been posted. Giants punter Steve Weatherford tweeted a video of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul lugging cornerback Prince Amukamara through a hallway and dumping him into a cold tub.
It's fairly mild by hazing standards, but the act -- combined with the offensive language toward the end of the video -- certainly should have given Weatherford pause. (He realized this after getting into trouble as he took down the video and posted this tweet: "I want to apologize to the fans ... The video I posted was distasteful. Our team is a family, and we love each other. I am sorry to the fans.")
Pro teams go to great lengths to keep the public from seeing exactly what happens behind closed doors, and Twitter can blow those doors right off. We've already seen tighter social media policies in amateur sports, where such things are seemingly easier to enforce. The NFL restricts players from tweeting pregame and during games. The Bengals banned Twitter this year during training camp, but for now, plenty of teams are playing the trust game during most situations -- a nice concept because it does treat players like adults and hold them accountable for making good choices.
"By and large our attention is on educating players, coaches and staff about social media," the Vikings' Anderson wrote, "as opposed to establishing restrictive guidelines beyond the existing NFL game day policy."
With situations like the Giants' brouhaha causing unpleasant distractions, though, it wouldn't be surprising if that was the exception instead of the rule down the road.