Posted At: November 22, 2013 11:30 a.m.
by Christi Rich
Bryce Harper, 21, of the Washington Nationals is one of the youngest Major League Baseball players to grace the hallowed baseball diamond. With that honor and distinction, Harper must constantly be aware of his image both on and off the field.
On May 13, Harper collided with the right field wall in a game, ultimately injuring his knee and requiring surgery in the offseason. Fans of the Nats are cheering for Harper’s speedy recovery.
While recovering, Harper ran into complications — not health related, but image related.
On Nov. 7, Harper tweeted the following picture of himself riding a bike and expressed his excitement about his progress.
However, according to The DC Sports Bog, Harper deleted his original tweet, replacing it with the photo above. The Washington Post grabbed his original tweet:
He changed clothes. So what?
Well, in 2011, Harper signed a multi-year deal with Under Armour agreeing to “wear the company’s apparel during games, attend promotional events and [be featured] in Under Armour’s advertising campaigns,” according to Sports Pro Media.
In his original, deleted tweet, look very closely: Harper is wearing Nike shorts. And The Washington Post made a mountain out of this molehill.
At what level do we expect professional athletes to preserve a brand image? Are we expected as consumers of sports television to assume that representatives of a company brand only wear that one brand at all times? I would hope not.
Sponsorships are an important perk of being a professional athlete, but I think there needs to be a line. Fans follow their favorite athletes on Twitter to feel close to them as a person. If their personal social media accounts are expected to maintain the integrity of the athlete’s sponsorships and not the integrity of his personality, why bother following the athlete at all?