Becoming an Olympic athlete takes a lot of hard work, determination and sometimes a little bit of luck. But apparently getting kicked out of the games takes little more than a lapse in judgment coupled with 140 characters.
Such was the lesson learned by Swiss soccer player, Michel Morganella, when he was booted from the Olympics this week because of a racist tweet.
These days, Twitter is used for a lot more than just updating your friends on what you had for breakfast or where you’re headed for the weekend. The network has been used to spread revolutionary messages, to promote political campaigns and as a marketing tool for tech-savvy individuals and companies.
In fact, the International Olympic Committee has embraced Twitter (News - Alert) this year, encouraging athletes to promote themselves, their nations and their sports through the use of social media. But, aware of the dark side of these technologies, the IOC also issued guidelines concerning standards of behavior.
Morganella reportedly failed to abide by those standards. The 23-year-old soccer player posted a racist tweet about the South Koreans soon after his team lost to South Korea 2-1 on Sunday. A Swiss newspaper posted images of the tweet from the now-deleted account, @morgastoss. After careful consideration by the Swiss team chief, Gian Gilli, Morganella was officially expelled from the games.
This marks the second athlete to get into hot water for racists tweets. Greece removed triple jumper Voula Papachristou from its roster last week after she posted a comment to Twitter mocking African immigrants.
In this age of social media, athletes often have some of the largest and most avid fan bases on Twitter. And many do wonders to bring positive attention to their sports, highlighting fans, congratulating others on accomplishments.
But now that Twitter has shown its true power, playing roles in taking down dictatorships, for example, it is imperative that anyone who uses the microblogging site use caution before hitting send. After all, once your comment is out there in cyberspace, you have no choice but to face the consequences.