Derek Jeter is widely considered one of baseball's classiest players for his on-field exploits. By going to Facebook Wednesday to announce his retirement from baseball following the upcoming season, the Yankee shortstop put on a clinic on how to use social media to strike the right tone for sensitive subjects.
Jeter's 15-paragraph retirement Facebook post is characterized by his hallmark cool. It efficiently distributes the information he needed to share—with plenty of thanks for his fans and the Yankees organization.
"Last year was a tough one for me," said Jeter, who turns 40 in June. "As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle....Now it is time for the next chapter. I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges."
As far as high-profile professional sports retirement announcements go, this one was remarkably painless.
From a PR standpoint, you could argue that an announcement like this should have been accompanied by a lengthy press conference, some grumbling that it "ended too soon," and maybe even some waterworks (think Brett Favre or Jason Varitek).
Jeter eliminated those possibilities by, instead, going with a simple text-only announcement, controlling the entire message while warding off story-hungry reporters.
Through social media, Jeter was able to democratize the process, with most people (including current and former teammates) finding out about his plans at the same time through Facebook.
Expect an onslaught of admiration for Jeter during the upcoming season as he travels to Major League ballparks for the last time as an active player—a fitting tribute to a player who knows how to make the right moves.
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