First it was Myspace, then Facebook and now Twitter. Social networking has not only changed the way we all communicate but the way celebs and athletes communicate with their fans and Haters. And although Twitter has been around a while, it is now playing a MAJOR role in sports.
Shaquille O’ Neal is often credited with being the first real big get and therefore boom for twitter. But nowadays you can’t find an athlete or reporter or commentator that covers sports without Twitter. Chad Ochocinco made headlines this off season saying he will more than likely tweet during halftime. And Charlie Villanueva formerly of the Bucks and now with the Pistons did get fined for a Tweet at halftime. Kevin Love broke the news of Kevin Mchale being fired as coach of the Timberwolves on twitter before the organization was even able to release a statement. We all want that behind the scenes access.
Where is this all headed? Fans love to feel like they’re connected to the players. So they can follow their favorite players and try to live vicariously through their lives. Fans get to see how they live and attend all the parties and big events with the athletes and even see they do the same things we do. This is a great way for the athlete to stay somewhat connected to the people who pay their salaries as well.
For the athletes it is away for them to communicate directly to the public without the filter of the media. That can be a good or bad thing. Some athletes have been able to repair or even create a better image of themselves. But others such as JR Smith as BSO reported earlier this week can get into trouble.
There will always be requirements by leagues for players to speak to the media, but over the years those press conferences have become cliche filled anyway. How many times have we heard “we gave 110%” and say nothing comments coming from a press conference. We love to get mad at the things that TO and players like say, but we also want to hear what athletes are really thinking. But now players can leave the press conference jump on their phones and give their real feelings and know their words will be presented just as they want it.
A number of NFL teams have drawn the line and said there will be no Twitter during so called “business hours.” And I for one agree. It is the same as a lot of companies banning people from Facebook at their jobs. We all say we’re only going to go on facebook for a few minutes when we get to work and next thing you know it’s lunchtime. The athletes free time is their free time and because of freedom of speech the teams can have no say on this. The San Diego Chargers recently fined Antonio Cromarties $2500 because he posted that the team “served nasty food.” Now was he fined for what he wrote or because it was still technically during “business hours?” If he was fined for what he said that is a problem and a road that teams don’t really want to go down.
But when your supposed to be at practice or sitting in a team meeting you don’t need to be trying to twitter. If the teams want to ask players not to tweet during practice and games that is their right. Wanting players to be laser focused on what is going during practice or the games should be expected. Once practice or the game is over Chad Ochocinco or any other player is free to tweet away.