ourWindsor.ca: Twitter post gets OHL ref suspended for remainder of season and playoffs

Jonathon LiedtkeourWindsor.ca – January 31, 2012

You’ve got to keep tabs on what you say online as increasingly, it can be both what employers use to judge whether or not they’ll hire you, and potentially even fire you for.

Fortunately for Joe Monette he didn’t find himself fired, but the OHL referee has found himself suspended for the remainder of the 2012-2013 season, as well as the playoffs for his inappropriate tweet regarding both the city and residents of Sault Ste. Marie.

Last Friday when Monette was in Sault St. Marie to ref a game between the Spitfires and the Greyhounds, he posted to Twitter:  “Soo Saint Marie, two words, Slim Pickens. #noteeth #hicktown #allfaties”.

Immediately causing an uproar on Twitter, Monette did apologize for his actions and posted “My tweet last night was not meant to be offensive and was meant as a joke between myself and a buddy of mine that lives in the Soo. I apologize if I offended anybody”, but his account (@MONZY25) has since been closed to the public.

OHL commissioner David Branch following the ordeal released a statement about the matter: “Mr. Monette displayed extremely poor judgment and the ‘tweet’ not only contravened the league’s social networking policy, but as well was detrimental to the welfare of the league, the officiating staff and fans of the OHL,” OHL commissioner David Branch said in a statement. “The league apologizes to those that may have been offended by such comments.”

In an interview with OurWindsor.ca, OHL VP Ted Baker explained that in general social media has been very positive to sports leagues as “information can be disseminated; whether it be scores, game stories, particular information which would be of interest to fans and media alike. I think social networking can be very positive for a league like the OHL.”

Baker noted that anybody who uses social media knows that while sometimes comments are made that you wish to take back, “you have to be careful that when you’re talking through Twitter, or when you send an email, it’s different than when you talk on the phone. Whenever you hit that [send] button, you can’t take that back, and you can’t just assume that you’re speaking with one person, you have to assume that this is something that can be discussed among many.”

According to Baker, the OHL has a social media policy that has been in place for roughly 3 years which deals with the OHL community [those that are involved in the day to day operations of the league: governors, GM’s, coaches, trainers, team medical staff, on/off ice officials, etc].

“When we’re dealing with those people that are entrusted with our game, whether it’s the team the league and those that are entrusted in enforcing our policies on and off the ice, there’s a standard to uphold to,” explained Baker, “There’s an expectation [that people will act professional]. If somebody is saying something derogatory regarding where they’re going or what they’re doing on behalf of the OHL as a part of the OHL community, then obviously that is where it crosses the line.

Ankur Kumar is host of Lancer Sports at CJAM 99.1FM and while he’s heard about people getting in trouble at work for what they’ve posted on social media, he hasn’t seen it in the world of sports until now.

“It’s an interesting thing that happened … every time you hear about a professional getting involved in social media mishap, it blows up,” explained Kumar who believes that the punishment was fair.

“Monette’s a referee and he’s somewhat like a designated member of the community. Every time we see somebody in a position of authority and they show some bias, I think that goes against their reputation,” stated Kumar, adding, “any hint of bias in a job like his really diminishes his credibility.”

Milan Pavlica, is a University of Windsor grad and lifelong hockey and OHL fan who explained that as a fan he thinks that “not only the officials, but anyone associated with the league, is responsible for what they post online. Other people get in trouble at their own work for photos of a drink at dinner, so comments like that are definitely fair game.”

Pavlica noted that the OHL is a business and as such, are trying to promote an image and disparaging comments posted by employees on Twitter “definitely don’t help the branding”.

“It’s clearly an inside joke with friends,” stated Pavlica, “but at the same time the social media world and those in it don’t know that so it’s been taken out of context.”

Jon Liedtke

Twitter post gets OHL ref suspended for remainder of season and playoffs (ourwindsor.ca)

Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.


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