Whether it’s electronic trash talking or spilling the beans on a possible violation, the frequency with which student-athletes’ tweeting results in disciplinary action (or worse) might be great blog fodder for outlets established and otherwise. However, “if I were talking as a football coach? You better believe I’d ban my players from using Twitter, and I’d do it yesterday..it’s Self-Preservation 101,” argues CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel (above), coming down firmly on the side of Kansas’ Turner Gill (who banned his players from tweeting during football season) and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier (who forbade his charges from using the social networking tool at anytime whatsoever).
North Carolina defensive lineman Marvin Austin went on Twitter last year to tweet pictures from a posh vacation to South Beach, raising the question: How is Marvin Austin affording a posh vacation in South Beach? By the time that question was answered, the scandal had claimed the jobs of football coach Butch Davis and athletics director Dick Baddour, not to mention the good name of the UNC football team. Twitter isn’t to blame for the offenses — but Twitter got North Carolina busted.
At South Carolina, Steve Spurrier banned Twitter after former USC linebacker Corey Miller tweeted out the arrest of star receiver Alshon Jeffery following a fight. Turns out, neither was true. No fight. No arrest. But the misinformation spread on the Internet, spreading to the point that Spurrier — who was burned earlier this summer when cornerback Victor Hampton tweeted that he’d been dismissed from the team, when in fact Hampton was later reinstated — banned his players from tweeting.
Gill didn’t claim a specific reason for banning Twitter. They merely recognized the potential downside. Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury recognized the downside last season when it landed on his desk in 140 characters — courtesy of star guard Ravern Johnson, who in his post-game disappointment after a loss to Alabama sent a tweet ripping his coaches and teammates. “Starting to see why people transfer …” is how the tweet began.
It’s dangerous, Twitter, and not just for athletes. It’s dangerous for any of us. Hell, it’s dangerous for me — and I’m a professional communicator. Trained, paid, experienced, all of it. And still I’ve had some shameful Twitter moments.
So what chance does a 19-year-old have?
Keep in mind, Doyel was far older than 19 years old when he used an NFL broadband hookup — from the Super Bowl press box, no less — to look up personal details about Deadspin commenters who found his live-blogging of said event less than effervescent. This happen a fair spell before Twitter came into vogue.