The moment an athlete ascends to fame, they enter an environment unlike anything they've experienced before. Intended or not, public figures exist as beacons of inspiration and role models for younger generations. Under newfound fame, every action, word, and post are scrutinized by millions.

While public notoriety presents unparalleled opportunities, it also exposes athletes to new challenges and threats that can be both bewildering and overwhelming. An increased public profile and a perception of approachability increases one’s vulnerability to scams, both from unknown entities and individuals within their personal circle – threats ranging from extortion, fake charities, fake investment, or romance scams. Public profiles are also distinct targets for disgruntled or threatening commentary towards their owners and close contacts.

Although newfound fame brings about varied risks, there are specific steps athletes, other public figures, their managers, and associated organizations can take to mitigate the consequence of negative impacts. 

Common Scenarios Facing Athletes Online 

Real-Time Social Media Posts  

Social media is a great way to engage with friends, family, and fan bases. However, even seemingly harmless posts have the potential to expose athletes and their close contacts to increased threats. Take for example, posting, in real-time, a photo from a family gathering. Geotagging features linked to social platforms have the potential to inadvertently reveal an individual or group’s location, exposing loved ones as targets for unwanted attention in real-time or in the future. 

Active Engagement with Individuals Online 

Although fan engagement can be rewarding for spectators and athletes alike, in the absence of proactive due diligence, online engagements increase an athlete’s exposure to online scams. While a public figure’s post may initially present as a warm gesture of appreciation towards fans, fan accounts are frequently leveraged by scam artists for intentional misconduct. As such, negligent social engagement provides fraudsters with a veil of credibility for exploitation, cultivating opportunity for effective deception and increased access to athletes themselves.  

Posting Contentious Opinions Online 

In a public scenario, an athlete might share a controversial opinion or post a picture with a contentious figure. Backlash from fans, sponsors, and the public is often swift and devastating, in some cases leading to loss of sponsorships and long-term damage to an athlete and teams' reputation.

Recommendations for Navigating the Online World 

Awareness: Knowing Who's Posting and Why with a Fresh Look at Online Presence 

To navigate the complex online ecosystem, athletes require acute awareness of who posts about them as well as the underlying intentions behind each post. They should view their online profiles as an extension of their professional lives, ensuring each post reflects the values of the entities they represent. 

To sanitize their online presence and ensure clear comprehension of their bespoke threat environment, we strongly recommend athletes take a step back and employ an objective perspective. Athletes and other public figures alike may consider searching their own name on a clean computer, assessing the public narrative about them, and seeking professional assistance to understand the comprehensive implications of public perceptions. Such insight supports athletes in effectively strategizing and navigating their social environment, allowing them to focus on what they do best: performing at the highest level in the sport they love. 

Protecting Personal Information (PII): Keeping Integrity Online 

Considering the potential consequences of each post and safeguarding personal information is of paramount importance to the maintenance of robust online integrity. Amidst such an intricate online world, seeking professional guidance in managing social media accounts is invaluable. Proper guidance can help athletes set appropriate boundaries and bolster the maintenance of a secure, positive online presence.  

Aligning the Online Path with Athletic Success and How Control Risks Can Help 

Navigating the intricate landscape of fame requires a comprehensive understanding of the online threats that prominent sports figures regularly encounter. There are inherent risks of public social platforms engagement, however they can be mitigated with a proper approach and support. Control Risks offers specialized services to support athletes in this endeavor, including threat and vulnerability assessments, online threat monitoring, bespoke threat intelligence support, person of interest assessments, and event and travel monitoring services. By partnering with us, athletes are able to safeguard their reputation and move forward with a newfound confidence that their digital integrity is in expert hands.

Finding this article useful?

Get in touch

Can our experts help you?