When you write about a topic or discuss one you’ll get two sides; It’s America, it’s what we do. There will always be someone out there with an opinion; whether they are well-versed in the subject or not.
I have been tweeting for a little over three years now. Some people like it, some don’t care for it at all. At first I was skeptical, but over time it has been a lot of fun. One thing about Twitter, it can backfire and bite you in the ass. I feel I have spent enough time on Twitter, have read many stories about it and have talked to others about to write a blog entry on it.
Responsibility, like in most other parts of our lives is important when it comes to tweeting. I feel my 50, 000 plus tweets have been for the most part decent. I had a member of the local media tell me I was too negative; I didn’t agree with her. A colleague of hers also told her I am the most negative person on Twitter; again, I don’t agree.
I tweet basketball nuggets, observations on baseball and football, motivational material, I tweet encouragement, I disagree with fans and analysts and I post cool pictures.
Far from being negative.
A few nights ago, a couple of Michigan State University football players threw some tweets out there aimed at University of Michigan football player Denard Robinson. Let’s put it this way, they weren’t positive.
MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio got wind of it and told them to put a stop to it…NOW!
Kudos to Coach Dantonio.
Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press wrote about it on Wednesday. Here’s the coach.
It’s America,” he said. “But there are consequences that go along with that. I’m not going to say there’s not free speech in our program, but I think that I’ll say what I’ve said all along. You can’t be prideful. You need to approach this game with humility. When it becomes personal, that crosses the line.”
The story blew up on the national scene. ESPN and Jim Rome picked up on it. When Rome talks about it in the Jungle, you know it’s big! Around here (Mid-Michigan) people on sports talk radio seem to think it’s not that big of a deal. I have news for you, it is a big deal.
When do tweets cross the line? As coaches and administrators we’re smart enough to know that something an 18 year-old puts out there for all to read can hurt an athletic program or the athlete himself. A coach has to protect the reputation of the team and school.
Last season a member of my basketball team got into it with an opponent on Facebook; I’m sure you are well aware of the popular social media site, well Twitter is similar; you get to “express yourself.”
To be honest, I don’t see any reason for a college athlete to be on Twitter.
Facebook is different because it’s private; you can monitor who sees your information; Twitter on the other hand is not. You “tweet” something, it stays out there because someone will “retweet” it and so on and so forth. Even if you delete it, the minute it gets re-tweeted or printed out by someone, the damage is done.
Next thing you know, your 140 characters has picked up legs and the national media gets a hold of it.
Now you’re screwed.
Twitter is a communication tool. It’s a public forum for you to tell the world how you feel. High school, college and pro athletes use it as a vehicle to convey their thoughts both good and bad — they also tweet about issues going on in their lives. They tweet about their breakfast, lunch, dinner and what was going down at the club last night.
They also post pictures of themselves. And what is up with standing in a bathroom, shirtless and snapping a picture in the mirror of yourself?
A negative tweet or an inappropriate picture can embarrass the athlete or the program. And maybe even violate NCAA rules.
I’m all for athletic departments monitoring their athletes tweets; especially comments about the opponents, officials, fans of the opponents and the media. Most tweets that land in those categories are negative.
Last year a high school football player tweeted some awful things and when the University of Michigan found out, they stopped recruiting him.
I’ve seen racial slurs, negative tweets about fans, someone’s sexual preference and bashing of one’s own coach. If you have a problem with your playing time, go see the coach, don’t throw it out on Twitter for everyone to see.
I can hear people now, “but what about the First Amendment?”
Look I understand all that, but let’s have some common sense here. Bashing someone on Twitter is ridicules. And don’t give me the “well we monitor our athletes tweets,” that’s fine, but what happens if it happens again?
Some schools have had their athletes sign a release form stating the coaching staff can take away Twitter for anything that will bring negative publicity to the program. Someone on the coaching staff follows the players and observes the tweets posted. Is this necessary? Coaches already have a difficult job; they have to waste valuable time tracking athletes’ tweets?
There’s no getting around it, Twitter is growing. It’s becoming very popular and a coach has every right to ban Twitter if his players misuse it.
Believe me, Twitter doesn’t bring any value to a college athlete. Sure it can help the actual school for recruiting purposes, marketing and sports news but with a heavy class load, involved in their particular sport, athletes can do without it.
I had a college coach tell me, “A college athlete needs to be a champ in the classroom and on the field; not in the social area.”
That’s music to my ears.
School’s need to revise their athletic handbook and I’m sure some have already. The problems Twitter can bring to a school needs to be addressed in Freshmen Student Orientation. Examples need to be explained to these young men and women.
You often hear people say, “It’s the new generation of kids,” when referring to high school and college students. You hear about their time playing video games, spending a lot of time on their cell phones and of course, social media. Sure the kids are different, we all know that, but common sense is the one timeless trait that will never leave us.
Before you send your next Tweet, read it back out loud; would you say it to your parent, teacher or to your coach?
Be smart. Be responsible. Your reputation and future could be in jeopardy.