July 16, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; United States president Barack Obama (left) and vice president Joe Biden (right) watch in the first half of the game between team USA and team Brazil at Verizon Center. Team USA won 80-69. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Election Day 2012: Athletes Strangely Absent from Twitter

Chris Pau’s Tweet is representative of one of the few LA athletes on Election Day. Tweets were happening at an insanely rapid pace. Congratulating Barack Obama and under-cutting Mitt Romney were easy topics worldwide if they were humorous, offensive, or just informative. However, the athletes paid to perform on the field, court, and ice in LA were conspicuously absent from the worldwide, online forum of opinion known as Twitter.

It’s easier for people to share their opinion than ever before. The (atleast) bi-lingual Spaniard joined CPIII and did plainly state his congratulations for President Obama. You don’t need a press conference to spread the word anymore, just a Twitter account.

But athletes absence from sharing their opinion on Election Day is concerning because they have such a podium for expressing themselves and effecting change. Pau Gasol alone has 1.5 million followers because of Americans committed long-term relationship with sports (at this point I think its safe to say its more enduring than a love affair); and we hear their message, 140 characters at a time.

Taking a stand on political issues is a risk. If it’s done poorly, it is a much bigger downside than the positive possibility of change. English soccer player Ashley Cole was fined about $145,000 for a tweet at the expense of the English Football Association. But its not like the Election is a really controversial issue. The Election for President hardly even masquerades as more than 1 choice for the POTUS. So it is not an exceptionally controversial topic to take up. About 50% of the US would likely support any athlete either way. It’s not like Ozzie Guillen getting hammered for his pro-Fidel Castro comments.

LA Kings defenseman Alec Martinez cleverly pulled back the curtain ever so slightly on his own opinion about the current political climate.

Most athletes stayed away from hash-tagging their way to a fine from their league or team, or insulting their sponsors, or atleast getting a good scolding out there from Twitter-World. While he is not an athlete, Yahoo Sports NFL columnist Mike Silver fought enough battles on Twitter Tuesday for the whole of the professional sports fraternity however. If you ask most Americans though voting itself is more important than which way you voted. So take a stand athletes.

OK LA Kings 4th line center Colin Fraser, you have explained yourself as to why you are not watching election coverage, and are subsequently off the hook from participating in US democracy. But as we learn all the time from beloved sports figures like Sir Charles Barkley, if you speak your mind, as long as you are honest about your opinions (and especially your apologies when you ask for forgiveness for speaking your opinion) the American public wants to like you and forgive you.

It is also less of a risk for former athletes to take a stand.

Magic could endorse Obama without fear of repercussion from sponsors. He is Magic Johnson, if he isn’t also the owner of any could-be offended companies and the Dodgers. It was more the culture for professional athletes to take up causes before cultural institutions Twitter and other social media, SportsCenter, and TMZ reigned. Comments weren’t reported immediately and dissected painstakingly.

He has only been a Dodger for less than a season despite being drafted by the team, but Shane Victorino takes his opinion about the big picture to Twitter. Twitter is an impressively powerful tool, with the opportunity to enact good as much as be problematic for professionals of all walks of life, not just athletes. But whether you support Obama or Romney, Dodgers or the Hated Giants, the bigger goal is to make change, see past any perceived difference and make the USA #1. So Let them hear it on Twitter #1USA #Election2012

Tags: Barack Obama Election 2012 Mitt Romney Twitter

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