The recent sacking of NRL Canberra Raiders player Josh Dugan has highlighted the ever-expanding role that social media can play in exposing high profile people to widespread public criticism. In what ‘The Courier Mail’ reported as a reaction to followers’ inappropriate and nasty comments, 22-year-old Dugan posted “abusive content” on several social media sites. News of this was quickly spread through mainstream media online coverage, and while Dugan has since apologised for his “bad words”, he pointed out that he is only human and is a “normal person like anyone else”. Perhaps Dugan should have been more mindful of the fact that as a professional sportsperson, on the social media sites he has a myriad of followers, supporters and sponsors who read his posted “expletive-laden...rants”. Furthermore, having been in the middle of negotiations for a three-year contract with the Brisbane Broncos, Dugan was already under their spotlight due to a “list of indiscretions” including a previous Instagram “outburst” three weeks prior that caused the Canberra Raiders to “tear up his contract”, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The Sunday Telegraph reported that Dugan has also lost his other prospective suitor, the St George Illawara Dragons, since the news of the “vile comments” went viral. The 22-year-old fullback is due to meet with NRL boss Dave Smith to discuss whether he has any chance of a comeback this year. The case serves to raise awareness of the risks and reach of content posted on social media that can be spread to thousands of followers and potential employers with just a ‘tap’ of a smartphone. Raiders Captain Dave Shillington told the Daily Telegraph that footballers “have a responsibility to behave” themselves and “cop the criticism”, and suggested that Dugan should “get help”.
With easy access to the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram sites, based on his recent behaviour Dugan may be viewed as a liability to any NRL club that takes him on. The outcome of the meeting with Smith is yet to be determined, but it is certain, according to The Courier Mail, that the Broncos will continue to search for a new ‘star player.’