There’s a lot of fuss here in Australia at the moment because two Olympic swimmers posted a photo on Facebook which showed them posing with shotguns and revolvers, presumably in some sort of deluded attempt to look hard. They’re now going to be sent home early from London as punishment for their stupidity and will not be allowed to use Facebook, Twitter or any other social media sites.
It strikes me that there are a few problems here.
Firstly, we’re expecting athletes to be role models, but that’s not their job. Parents should be acting as role models for their children and the fact that they’re not, and do look up to celebrities and the like is a bigger issue for society than a couple of jocks posing with guns (which, let’s not forget, isn’t illegal, much as I wish all guns were).
Secondly, the problem here isn’t Facebook, it’s the fact that these guys are, quite obviously, idiots. Would they be better sports-people if they hadn’t posted the photo? They’d still have been stupid, and we should probably be more worried than anyone is surprised about this – I’d suggest that you don’t have to be an intellectual to be a swimmer (though my friend Jane somehow manages to be both); in fact, based on nothing more than my experience at school, I’d suggest that many of those who get attracted to sports are exactly the sort of people you wouldn’t want to act as any sort of role model, even if you did think athletes should have that responsibility.
Time and time again brands get burnt when the sports stars they sponsor end up doing something stupid. But really the true stupidity is in thinking that we should expect athletes to do anything other than show how good at sports they are.
Photo via Sydney Morning Herald.