Social media keeps spotlight on athletes

Bryer Lehr, IV Leader columnist

We’ve  reached  a time in technology where information is spread almost instantaneously it seems. With Twitter, Facebook, and the entire internet being used by seemingly everyone, social media is at an all-time high, which means that professional athletes are being scrutinized like never before.

Twitter seems to be the number one cause of all scrutiny nowadays and criticisms that used to be private are now being sent out to the entire world. Every small issue that probably doesn’t even matter is now overblown because with one simple search you can read the opinion of everyone with a keyboard.

You don’t think sports fans read the tweets of random people they have never met before that have an opinion on a similar subject? Think again. For example, during the summer I made sure to stay caught up on ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski’s Top 30 Quarterbacks list.

The day my favorite quarterback Jay Cutler was listed at 8, I sent out a tweet about Cutler finally getting some respect. Since this list turned out to be so popular, Jay Cutler was a trending topic on Twitter that day. Later that night, I logged on to find a football fan in Dallas had tweeted me not once, but SIX times telling me Cutler was a bum and I was an idiot for liking him (Ironically, he was a Tony Romo fan. I win.).

If some guy from Texas was willing to lash out on a junior college student in Illinois, imagine the amount of fans that taunt famous athletes everyday.

The pressure to win for an athlete is always there, but in the age of social media it never seems to disappear. The two biggest examples that come to mind are New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Miami Heat superstar LeBron James. For Sanchez, he can’t even get out of bed in the morning without someone on the internet suggesting he get benched in favor of Tim Tebow.

The Jets are a team with a lot of problems and Sanchez is farfrom the biggest one. Yet in the age of social media and a cult of Tim Tebow fans, the pressure has hit an all-time high for the quarterback.

In the case of LeBron James, he does bring a lot of the unnecessary attention on to himself with his diva attitude but everything he does on the court just has to be compared to the all-time greatest Michael Jordan. Come the 4th quarter of any close Miami Heat game, Twitter explodes with MJ would do this and LeBron can’t do that talk. As much as I love hating on LeBron, the guy never gets a break.

Twitter and other social media sources can be great, but for the modern athlete they do nothing but mount the pressure to perform to an even higher level. When athletes are receiving death threats like 49ers receiver Kyle Williams after the NFC Championship Game, you know that these criticisms and pressures have reached an unnecessary point. Unfortunately, that is the world we live in right now so athletes if you don’t want to hear it from the fans: Don’t mess up, they’re everywhere now.