A sports story that is way too familiar has added a new chapter, as a sports personality has lost his job, and the catalyst seems to be a series of tweets. What began with a professional hockey player taking part in a campaign for marriage equality has led to Rogers Sportsnet firing on-air host Damian Goddard, who tweeted in support of opposition to gay marriage.
The company claims there were a series of other incidents that led to his release, but his tweet earlier this week was enough to give him the boot. The tweet was in backing of hockey agent Todd Reynolds, who had taken to Twitter to rebut Sean Avery’s support for gay marriage. Avery and other New Yorkers joined together in a video campaign, and Mr. Reynolds responded with the following tweet: “Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender ‘marriage.’ Legal or not, it will always be wrong.” On a side note, hockey fans might appreciate that even off the ice and not trying to be an agitator, Avery is an instigator and created yet another media storm.
Mr. Goddard joined the side of the agent, tweeting, “I completely and whole-heartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE (sic) meaning of marriage.” While the twitter account is his own, it does identify Rogers Sportsnet as an employer.
This story here isn’t about gay marriage; the topic could have been any polarizing issue in the social or political spectrum. Mr. Goddard was not asked to weigh in on the issue, but due to either his ignorance in the power of social media, or his egocentric belief that he was above reproach, he went to Twitter to say something that he should know would cause waves. Comments flooded message boards on the Sportsnet website (Mr. Goddard should know the love of sports fans to vocalize their opinions), to disagree with the tweet.
It seemed one day trying to quell comments about this story was enough for Rogers. “Today’s tweet from Damian Goddard does not reflect the views of Rogers Sportsnet,” was the phrase of choice used online by the company.
Once again, Mr. Goddard, like everyone else on Twitter, has freedom of speech, but he does not have freedom from consequence. He is quite literally a face for a company (and vast one at that), and he has brought in unnecessary and negative attention. What’s more, he is a sportscaster, and decided to delve into something publicly that is part of something in which he is not solicited. People turn to him for sports news, however knowledgeable he is about other topics. Indeed it seems he has been fired for voicing his opinion, but when he brings in negative attention to a company working in a position that is expendable, it should come as no surprise that this is the outcome.
What is amazing is the speed with which this story has taken shape. On Monday the tweets of Mr. Reynolds became well known, on Tuesday Mr. Goddard tweeted his support, and on Wednesday he lost his job. Thus, beware the powers of social media, lest you lose your head, and lose your job.