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On Wednesday, Pro Bowl Houston Texans running back Arian Foster tweeted an MRI image of his hamstring for the viewing public. The picture was accompanied with your usual Gen-X irreverent style of humor: “This is an MRI of my hamstring, The white stuff surrounding the muscle is known in the medical world as anti-awesomeness,” stated Foster. Similarly, for professional sports franchises, their multi-million dollar player’s decision to divulge his medical information for the world to see is also known as “anti-awesome.” Or more likely a nastier pejorative.
Foster’s tweeted MRI image was inevitably examined by ESPN’s sports medical expert Dr. Michael Kaplan, who said that it demonstrates “considerable muscle damage with bleeding and swelling,” and portends a three to four week stint on the disabled list. According to Kaplan, if Foster attempts to return at an earlier time, he “risks” further injury. Translation: every opposing NFL team doctor is going to carefully review Foster’s MRI image, gauge how bad it is, and provide that information to coaching staffs to prepare accordingly. Maybe this information ultimately amounts to nothing, or maybe it does: either way, the Houston Texans organization will have to address public knowledge of this information in a manner adverse to their strategy had it not been released.
Recently, a couple I know on Facebook, each of whom have close to a 1,000 friends (half of which they probably never met), announced their break up after a several year relationship on the site. Actually, only one member of the couple did so by changing her “relationship status” from “in a relationship” to “single.” A little heart on both her and my friend’s screens appeared as broken to share the news. A flood of posts followed – some sympathetic, almost all opportunistic.
How this is privileged information for some 2,000 people is beyond me. When I asked some fellow Facebook friends what they thought, most of them just shrugged their shoulders; “I don’t know, it’s just the way it is” was the common reply, before engaging in a robust discussion about the nuances of the “It’s Complicated” status. The broader implication behind this tale, though, seems to be that social networks like Twitter and Facebook are more than just a matrix of connections, they’re big massive cyber families. The intimacy of information shared on these sites are almost reflexively, if not compulsively shared – ultrasounds, baby albums, wedding proposals, the new bicycle I purchased last night (I posted it before I locked the thing). So if one can post a broken heart or an ultrasound of a fetus on Facebook, is it all that surprising Arian Foster – who was appealing to those whom he presumed were “sincerely concerned,” as opposed to fantasy team owners – posted an MRI image to his massive online family?
The answer, sadly, is “yes.” Even though the internet has bred a fair amount of iconoclasm and egalitarianism into our actions, at the end of the day money, in reality, trumps all. While you’re on the internet waxing freely, a corporation is raking in the cash by setting and often manipulating the rigid rules of business. Foster is a multi-million dollar athlete for a lucrative NFL corporation, and should know that of all philosophies, so long as he works under one, he must abide by the philosophy of business first. Foster may rightly be unconcerned with the opinions of fantasy owners , but those owners are simply fantastical descendants from the real suits and coaches that he plays for in NFL; individuals whom Foster owes more responsibility toward – even at the behest of sharing information with his new family.