Friday, January 20, 2012

You've got to love Twitter, but it doesn't always love athletes

Twitter is a great invention. For a member of the media, it's a terrific outlet to have conversations with readers or listeners. I truly enjoy that aspect of Twitter.
It's short, sweet and to the point. It's a great place to post links., and retweet profound or humorous comments.
Following the news cycle incredibly fast and simple on Twitter. And access is easy and non-stop.
There are some gnarly aspects to Twitter. You have cyber bullies, hackers, Twitter stalkers. It's not a perfect medium. Nothing ever is - or will be.
Like many other aspects of the digital world, it has some annoyances, but they are far outweighed by the good.
One of the glitches is a downside for athletes. For the most part they prosper on Twitter - it's the perfect place to get their point across and connect directly with fans. No need to answer questions they don't want to. No person contact, but direct contact regardless.
And I don't begrudge athletes this. If I were advising them, I'd by all means suggest connecting with fans on Twitter.
But with fair warning. What you "tweet" on Twitter becomes etched in stone. It's like sending out a written statement - and signing it.
We saw it locally after Aaron Berry, a Lions' cornerback, tweeted about how critical fans following a playoff loss at New Orleans "...can go back to being Broke & Miserable..." He deleted the Tweet relatively quickly, but it was too late. It had already been retweeted and was subsequently widely reported. Was it an unfortunate emotional reaction, a heat in the moment type of thing? Likely. But it won't easily be forgotten.
Yuri Wright, a legitimate Top 50 recruit nationally and widely-regarded among the Top 5 cornerbacks in the country, was expelled from high school football power Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey recently because of string of tweets reportedly that were sexually and racially insensitive, and graphic. Reportedly, this had been going on since July. Michigan is one of the schools that reportedly stopped recruiting Wright.
Is this case of a kid being a kid? Despite the reportedly shocking nature of the tweets, probably. Have players done far worse and still been recruited, or been allowed to remain in school and on various college football teams after doing worse? Yes.
I still think Wright will play college football. If he plays it well, and stays out of trouble, the programs that didn't take him because of his conduct on Twitter might regret it.
The sad part is it didn't have to happen. Coaches, administrators, teachers, society must do a better job of warning people, especially our youth, about the consequences of posts on social media sites. That's especially true of Twitter because of the rapidness it disperses its 140 characters or less. That includes reacting to the rouge aspect of the medium.
Twitter is kind of like the angry man e-mails at the office. Here's a suggestion to anybody thinking about sending one of those out: Don't.
They live forever. And so do Tweets.


Anonymous Love Your Blog said...

I love this post, it is clear and to the point. Twitter is kind of cool, but dangerous too!

3:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reportedly I hear that most of his outrageous tweets were song lyrics.

1:31 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're wrong. Not all of us have to love twitter. In fact, some of us don't partake at all because we could care less about what some athlete, movie star, or reporter happens to be thinking at the moment. It's called having a life of our own.

3:47 AM 

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