Hadfield: When it comes to ‘athlete-speak,’ context is everything

Tyler Seguin is in hot water over a controversial tweet. (Getty Images)
Tyler Seguin is in hot water over a controversial tweet. (Getty Images)

The night before David Ortiz declared Boston was “our [expletive] city” and gave some poor Federal Communications Commission employee a heart attack, Red Sox third baseman, Will Middlebrooks, took to the Twittersphere to express his excitement about the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

@middlebrooks tweeted on April 19: “He’ll forever be known as suspect #2 bc no one can pronounce his name #lfyjnluvvswrhsweddhk

The flippant tweet about the difficulty enunciating the suspect’s name is sacrilegious at worst and a lapse in judgment at best. And the fact it has since been deleted suggests a retrospective admission from Middlebrooks, either on his own accord or at the Red Sox request, that the remark was in poor taste. The following Monday, Bruins star Tyler Seguin found himself embroiled in controversy after his own mishap on Twitter.

@tylerseguin92 tweeted: “Just listened to the song in my bed. Gave me goosebumps no homo. My roommate and boy have some skills @freddybender @KnucklesNBS

The predisposition to pick and choose what coaches and players can – and can’t – say is an epidemic in the sports world. Ask Rick Pitino about who is (and isn’t) walking through that door or Allen Iverson about the merits of practice. In their world, freedom of speech is a liability, not a liberty. But athletes aren’t having dinner with your parents, dating your sister, watching your kids, or passing bills in Congress. They jump and run. Win and lose. That’s it. Production is king.

 I’ve never met Seguin, but based on limited interaction with Middlebrooks, he seems like a gregarious dude. Someone you’d like to have a beer – or 12 – with. The 24-year-old is part of a Red Sox team that’s changed the conversation on Yawkey Way from chicken, beer, and Halo to baseball. Seguin is an All-Star and Stanley Cup champion. That’s where each fits into our lives. Nothing more, nothing less.

An athlete’s social commentary speaks to awareness – or lack thereof – about what’s going on in the world around them. Neither Seguin nor Middlebrooks covered themselves in glory, but this isn’t San Francisco 49ers cornberback Chris Culliver discouraging openly gay players in the NFL. The incessant spotlight of Twitter occasionally illuminates warts 140 characters at a time. But you’re telling me the fans at Madison Square Garden on Saturday who booed Paul Pierce during a ceremony to honor the victims of the tragedies in Boston weren’t off base either? Why hold athletes to a different standard than Joe Six-Pack? I learned long before Middlebrooks and Seguin hit the Tweet button that people can be crass.

Yet media hordes wait for salacious sound clips just as much as insight into the games they cover. Twitter exacerbates this tendency. In the context of sports, these meltdowns provide perspective into a team’s mental state, but playing Gotcha-Journalism with an athlete commenting on current events or making an inappropriate remark, makes as much sense as dissecting President Obama’s NCAA Tournament bracket. Context is everything.

Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.