Social Media and Australia’s Sporting Elite – What NOT to do online


We have seen a trend develop over the last four years in the improper use of social media by popular figures, more specifically by Australia’s sporting elite. This has resulted in a negative online presence, coupled with a forever-tarnished personal brand and reputation.

First there was Stephanie Rice’s homophobic slur incident in September 2010, where she tweeted ‘Suck on that Fa****’  when the Wallabies defeated South Africa. Although the post was deleted immediately, her reputation was irreparably damaged, with people labeling her ‘a complete idiot’ and ‘a fool’. The tweet resulted in the termination of her sponsorship contract with Jaguar and she had to give back the car that was give to her. 

Moving on to June 2012, we saw a photo of Australian swimmers Nick D’Arcy, and team mate Kenrick Monk, posing with guns exposed on Nick D’Arcy’s Facebook page. The photo was taken in a gun shop in California where the pair attended a training camp to prepare for the London Olympics. The photo was deemed foolish and inappropriate by Swimming Australia, and the swimmers were ordered to remove it, under a clause listed in their contracts. They were told that similar posts would not be tolerated in the future. 

Finally, in April 2013, Josh Dugan, an NRL fullback for the Raiders, was expelled from his team for his tweet, “End your life”. It was directed at an angry Raiders fan, who commented about his plans to leave the team and his breakup with his partner. Dugan quickly saw his 2 million dollar contract dissipate, and lost any opportunities of signing with the Bronco’s.

Governing bodies, such as Swimming Australia, recently employed a new strategy to reform the use of social media by their athletes. Monitoring online content that may have a detrimental impact on their reputation and other athletes. The guidelines specify that “all persons bound by these Guidelines should not comment or respond to a comment in a way that may be construed as negative or may be considered derogatory towards others, or put themselves in a situation that may harm their reputation, the reputation of their teammates, the Australian Swim Team, or Swimming Australia, including its sponsors and stakeholders or any other third party”.

Social Check™ welcomes Swimming Australia and any other sporting organisational bodies, to get in touch to find out how we can assist them in managing their reputation, and that of their athletes.

Until next time,

The Social Check Team 

David Griffiths

David Griffiths

Founder & Director - Social Check™

Social Check™ helps individuals to look the very best they can online and ensure that their personal online brand is as strong as it can be. Social Check’s unique technology helps people to rapidly, cheaply and easily audit their existing online presence and then take swift action to remedy issues and improve it. With a background of holding senior roles in multi-national corporates, David is passionate about business strategy, social media, innovation, start-ups, leadership, personal branding, executive development, brand reputation, reputational risk and digital marketing.