By now, we’ve all heard of Twitter. You know the social networking
forum that allows us to instantly access the thoughts and feelings of
our friends, favorite musicians, celebrities and our favorite athletes.
The idea is simple. You log on, list the people you’d like to “follow”
and when they have something to say, you’re alerted that they’ve posted
a message. For the most part it’s all good, innocent enough, and
sometimes even informative.
We’ve all seen athletes being interviewed regarding a hot-button topic
like a devastating loss, or worse yet, a devastating loss caused by a
player’s mistake. You know the drill. The player is often relegated to
one-word answers which provides little insight into the situation and
we as fans are left to wonder what truly happened. The interviewer
continues to dig in and rephrase the questions but the athlete doesn’t
budge. It will sometimes lead to a “no-comment” response and in some
situations, it escalates into a profanity-laced shouting match that
never provides any answers at all and often leads athletes to shy away
from the media altogether. But that’s where Twitter is different.
The beauty of Twitter from a sports fan’s perspective is that because
the posts are made away from the media in a non-confrontational
setting, athletes tend to open up more and say a lot more than they
typically would in an interview session. Because the setup of making a
post is the same as texting a buddy, we often get the thoughts and
feelings the player is really thinking versus the canned responses
we’ve all become accustomed to hearing and I for one am all for
true-speak versus BS. And we in the media are always looking for the
truth rather than the same ole cliche-riddled responses we’ve come to
But for whatever reason, those “twittering” or making “tweets” often
encounter a disconnect with the very same public their opening
themselves up to. Some don’t understand just like when you say
something stupid or controversial during an interview and it will
quickly becomes public and spreads like wildfire around the country,
the same holds true when you make a stupid post on Twitter.
I find it hard to believe that athletes don’t realize this as they’re
telling their fan base to f-off or stereotyping us all into
minimum-wage Fryolater operators. And Twitter doesn’t discriminate
either. Whether you’re a Pro Bowl player or a guy who has yet to see
any on-field action, the power of the “tweets” you make and the
consequent repercussions are equally damning. Sure, you can later
delete the post, but by then the damage has been done or you wouldn’t
be deleting it.
This recent rash of NFL “tweets” has already caused many teams to ban
its players from making posts and it won’t be long before the NFL and
the other leagues expand the no-Tweet zone across the board. If players
could just learn to provide us fans with the insider knowledge we all
crave and leave the disparaging comments inside like they’ve been doing
before all this modern technology came along, we could all learn to
embrace Twitter and what it offers. Until then, keep it simple guys and
learn from the mistakes of others. Tweet about how pissed you got when
the oposing left tackle chop blocked you on the fourth-and-inches play
at the goaline and leave the finger-flipping, fan-base hating for your
private e-mails to your teammates.
For ESPN’s take on this topic, click here.