Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jermaine O'Neal Chooses Words Poorly

He didn't really do anything "wrong," but Heat big-man Jermaine O'Neal might want to reconsider his use of words when using his Twitter, especially when 8,173 (at last count) people might see what he says.

What is it that he said, you might ask? Check the below image for the answer.

Like I just said, O'Neal didn't do anything wrong, but he did use a poor choice of word in his tweet to teammate Dwyane Wade. The issue I have with O'Neal's choice of wording is obvious: he's a public figure that used a racial slur in a medium that is seen by thousands of people, even if he was just trying to say what's up to a friend.

I understand that many black people, and many people in general, use the term loosely as a term of endearment and rappers openly use the word in their music. However, athletes are in a different boat than everyone else, fair or not. Commissioners of the major sports leagues are trying to run family-friendly businesses, and nearly every aspect of the public image of their employees (professional athletes) is carefully watched over in the form of things such as league dress codes and other policies that help keep that family-friendly label.

Just last year, Dallas Cowboys backup tight end Martellus Bennett was fined $22K by the team for using similar derogatory terms in a YouTube video he posted on his aptly-named Marty B TV.

Like Bennett, O'Neal's public perception is bigger than just himself, because he also represents the Miami Heat, and beyond that, the NBA. This probably won't become a big issue, nor should it be blown out of proportion.

All I'm saying is that perhaps next time, when using a public social networking medium to have a personal conversation with a friend, O'Neal should try to use a more careful choice of words, such as "man," "bro," or if he wants to stick with the slang, "homey," and leave the derogatory slang at home, to be used away from the public spotlight.

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