Electronic Arts usually carries out an annual Madden NFL tournament where the gaming community has an opportunity to compete for the chance to take home some serious cash and show off their skill. Well, this year's Madden Bowl winner has landed in some hot water.
Matt Marcou, the Madden competitive gaming commissioner, issued a statement explaining why EA docked MacFarland $3,000 and what they expect from the community moving forward, stating in a letter...
During and directly after the competition, Chris posted multiple messages on a personal social media account that referenced inappropriate content. These posts violated our code of conduct and don't represent the values of our organization. We immediately met with Chris to warn him that his posts were inappropriate and could not continue. Unfortunately, additional offensive messages were posted in subsequent days -- Chris has since removed them.
Gamespot is reporting that the Madden Bowl 2017 winner, Chris MacFarland, was docked 100 points from his season standings and fined $3,000 from his $75,000 take-home earnings due to inappropriate tweets he made on his personal Twitter account. EA announced that they would be using the $3,000 on a program to help inform and educate eSports competitors on how to behave as a top-level competitor. In other words, they need to ensure that eSports competitors behave like real-life sports stars who are trained in what to say in front of cameras and how to behave during interviews so that they represent the company (and by proxy, the sponsors) in the best light possible.
They don't mention what the tweets said or how they came across them, but it was likely that EA was alerted to the instances of the tweets by other users on Twitter. According to Polygon, some people began searching through MacFarland's Twitter history, pulling up tweets from up to seven years ago, and sending them to EA in order to get the company to punish MacFarland for things they found offensive.
However, EA wasn't directly concerned with what MacFarland said in the past, but they were concerned with what he's said at present... more specifically, what he's said during the actual Madden NFL tournament.
MacFarland has a social media history of banter and trash talking amongst his friends and rivals. It's not surprising he took it to EA's corporate eSports ecosystem during the Madden NFL tournament. However, despite his comments being posted to his own personal account, some people thought that being the winner of the Madden Bowl meant that in some way he's a representative of EA's brand, and therefore EA decided to step in and issue warnings to MacFarland and censure him on how to behave in public.
Some commenters argued that it was stepping over the bounds of free speech since his comments were relegated to his own personal Twitter account. Others argued that he signed an agreement to participate in EA's Madden NFL tournament, and therefore his behavior was/is subject to their terms and conditions. MacFarland did later apologize for his tweets and he stated that he understands that the Madden NFL eSports audience is growing and that he needs to be more responsible for his behavior moving forward.