Page 11 - Athletic Health Handbook
P. 11
never been more difficult to control.6 “Never let the facts get in the way An example of this comes from
But, the media will only print what of a good story.” —Mark Twain a communication on Twitter posted
people want to read. Never before has by a Gaelic football player in Ireland.
there been such an obsession with A further factor in this form of The player unfortunately sustained
sports personalities by the public, immediate propagation of information a fractured toe prior to the final.
which ensures that medical details is that the message being delivered In his tweet following the game, he
of those individuals have prominence is often inaccurate. Non-medical acknowledged the role the doctor
throughout all media outlets.6 individuals may struggle with medical played in assuring his availability to
terminology, which admittedly can play by giving him a pain killing
Athletes need to be aware of be confusing, and frequently report injection into the toe. Neither the
the privilege of confidentiality and erroneous diagnoses. Added to this, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
the importance it entails. By naïvely because of the instantaneous nature nor the Gaelic Athletic Association
publicizing their injuries without due of social media, athletes commonly (GAA) guidelines prohibit the
consideration, athletes run the risk of just state the differential diagnoses administration of local anesthetics
not only potentially breaching the before a definitive diagnosis is made. and the doctor’s actions were beyond
code of conduct of their organizations, No sooner have these details been reproach. However, had this been
but more importantly, affecting posted than they are in the a rugby player these actions would
their value or ability to attain future mainstream press. The veracity have been in breach of the doping
contracts. The consequences of of this information is seldom guidelines, as administration of local
revealing an injury go beyond just corroborated and consequently anesthetics on the day of the game
the availability of the player, and incorrect information is further is forbidden.7, 8, 9 This case illustrates
may have significant implications on disseminated. The athlete’s brand that the doctor and his methods
maintaining the team’s confidentiality. may become tarnished if they are are now identifiable and open to
thought to have a career threatening misinterpretation. Taken further,
Video analysis of teams and injury, even if that fact is not true. this information, if misconstrued,
players is widespread in most sports. could possibly lead to a complaint
Sophisticated algorithmic programs Another concerning consequence to the medical registration
are used to study the patterns, of misinformation occurs when a authorities or to WADA.
tactics, and tendencies of players player’s exhortations misrepresent the
and teams to choose certain options actions of the treating physician. The Guidelines
during a game. As a result, analysts fallout can raise serious questions
are able to reasonably predict how about the doctor’s professionalism or “Common sense is not so common.”
teams and players will play, or what ethical conduct. The doctor-patient —Voltaire
decision they are likely to make relationship goes two ways. By
in a given scenario. By revealing players divulging information about All athletes are, and obviously should
information on certain injuries, treatment, physicians should be be, free to share their personal ideas
the advantage may be handed to the aware that their practices are open and opinions. They should feel
opposition regarding choosing their to scrutiny. encouraged to connect with their
tactics or lineups. One could also fans and form a strong social media
take a more cynical view that it may Similarly, it is a salutary lesson for profile. Fans want their athletes to be
also give rise to teams focusing on team doctors to realize that everything real and uncensored. However, when
particular players, knowing they are must be above board because the issues like injuries are the focus,
injured and probably not playing to course of treatment they chose may a modicum of restraint is required.
full capacity. An even more sinister be disclosed by the players they are The following guidelines have been
approach has occasionally been caring for. It is incumbent upon provided to support the team
adopted whereby injured players are sports doctors to make themselves physician on how to advise athletes
targeted to try to put them out of the aware of the up-to-date guidelines set on what information to reveal about
game. In fact, to avoid this happening, out by the governing body responsible injuries in social network
a U.S. collegiate football team is for their sport. If doctors are covering communications.
known to routinely strap not only different sports they should also be
the injured limb but also the cognizant of the fact that there are
contralateral side. different guiding principles.

THE DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN SPORT 11
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