Sport Minister urges athletes to be mindful of their social media image
By Akeem Greene
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr., has offered some noble advice to athletes in Guyana, encouraging them to be mindful of the image they present to the public on social media platforms.
The Attorney-at-Law and Politician made an analogy using his life as an example: “You always got to be mindful of your own image; everything that you say is analysed (and) is kept on record for years to come.”
The Minister, speaking on Wednesday evening on the Guyana Olympic Association’s Webinar, themed Maximising the Media, further added: “Everything you do it is the same thing; every picture it stays, it is a public record so you got to be mindful about what you put out and what you expose yourself to being out there.”
“You’ve got be mindful that if you put something out there, it is out there forever and that’s why you have to very careful at the same time, but you learn over time.”
As he touched on the nature of social media and encouraged athletes to improve their public relations, Ramson Jr. said it is imperative that ‘your product is good and you are excelling in the respective discipline.’
“If your core product is not exceptional, it does not matter what you do in public relations, it is not going to change the fact that you need to do more work, you need to train harder; the bottom line is companies want to associate with winners.”
Ramson Jr. further indicated the technological revolution has made it easier to connect and asked athletes to come out of their comfort zone, “take some risks, but be calculated.”
To the Sport Associations/Federations, the Minister implored on them the need to capitalise on “capturing space” from constantly publicising their activities, which creates an appeal and interest by the public, and in turn allows for more partnerships with the Private Sector.
GOA President K.A. Juman-Yassin connoted similar sentiments: “You must always be aware that when you use the media to transmit of yourself or others or ideas or views, you open up yourself to the world. You are also in some instances opening a window to you and your family to the world.”
He added, “Being exposed to the public may lead to negative feedback to you and this can be detrimental to you and your confidence, esteem, and personality. It may affect your performance and thus instead of being good it is the reverse.”
The GOA head said the network from the media can be great for elite athletes in gaining sponsorship among other things, but urged them to be mindful of brands they chose to associate with since it can have a damaging effect.
Yassin gave an example of Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice, a triple Olympic Gold Medallist, who lost a valuable contribution from car dealers Jaguars after she sent a tweet using an anti-gay slur. She apologised, removed the tweet, but still lost the sponsorship.
Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou was withdrawn from the London Olympics in 2012 after causing an uproar at home for a tweet slammed as racist.
The Webinar, which at one point had over 140 participants, also had presentations from Let’s Bet Sports Brand Ambassador and seasoned Journalist Rawle Toney on the relationship between the media and highlighting athletes, and more so that “Sport is a business”.
Information and Communications Technology expert Ishaka Jackman also elaborated on how the viral nature of social media can quickly build massive engagement if used correctly.
Olympian and now Sport Administrator, Aliann Pompey, recollected how she used the media to build her network.
She also said in her days as an athlete, some publications and statements people made in the media affected her psychologically, but she opted not to respond to create unnecessary fracas.