It’s not surprising that hear that New York Rangers forward Sean Avery is at the centre of yet another controversy.
The 31-year-old former Vogue intern teamed up with the Human Rights Campaign and released a 30-second video for “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality” over the weekend, becoming the first professional athlete in New York to publicly support marriage equality. And according to the HRC, the Rangers, as an organization, are now rallying behind Avery in support of the campaign.
Uptown Sports, an Ontario-based hockey management company who represents a whopping 11 NHL players (including Mr. Carrie Underwood), is not okay with this. The company’s vice-president, Todd Reynolds, voiced his displeasure via Uptown’s Twitter account yesterday:
“Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender “marriage”. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.”
Not surprisingly, a Twitter backlash ensued. Reynolds tried to smooth things over by further explaining his point, but the new tweets only shoved his foot farther down his throat.
“To clarify. This is not hatred or bigotry towards gays. It is not intolerance in any way shape or form. I believe we are all equal…but I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. This is my personal viewpoint. I Do not hate anyone.”
Later that day, the National Post contacted Donald Reynolds, Uptown’s president (and Todd’s father), who said that although he stands by the comment, it’s not the basis on which they run their business and they would never ask questions like that of their clients: “I don’t think that your opinion about gay marriage or sexual orientation or whatever should ever come into the hockey business.”
Then why did you bring it in?
Personal opinions are lovely, but personal opinions belong in personal accounts, especially when your business represents other people. It’s one thing for the Rangers to band together and back up Avery’s stance on same-sex marriage, but it’s something else entirely to drag your clients into a controversy of your own making. It’s unprofessional and unfair, not to mention plain ol’ bad business.
Until this social media faux pas, Uptown’s Twitter account was remarkably appropriate. They stuck to client news and general sports updates, and even when Todd took over the account from another employee a month ago, there was barely a hiccup in the Twitter stream. They maintained a professional image that matched their overall business model.
But then the tweets hit the fan, and all brand consistency went out the window—along with their credibility. Social media accounts shouldn’t be taken lightly. They’re an extension of your business and need to be treated with the same level of respect and responsibility.
As Donald Reynolds told the National Post, “If Sean Avery were a client of mine, I would support him in his beliefs. I would tell him he’s wrong, but that’s fine.”
He claims this debacle won’t affect his business, but I think Uptown has done irreversible damage. Not all publicity is good publicity.