Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Am I the only one that doesn't get upset about twitter rants from players?

If you want to know why college coaches across the country are banning their team and their players from twitter, you have to look not further than Maryland's starting point guard Terrell Stoglin and seldom-used Ohio State freshman LaQuinton Ross.

On Saturday, after Stoglin was benched down the stretch of a 73-55 loss at Duke because of poor shot selection and, frankly, poor shooting, the sophomore tweeted out "Loved sittin that bench today. SMFH wow." After spewing some non-publishables in conversation with some friends, word eventually got to back to Stoglin that his tw-antics weren't so he posted an apology, saying "Never tweet after a loss. not a bad dude just frustrated. Love terpnation! My fault."

Ross did much of the same. After riding the bench in Ohio State's win over Minnesota on Tuesday night, Ross vented his frustrations about his lack of playing time on twitter. "I don't know how much longer I can take this BULLSHIT!!!!!," he wrote. And, as in the case of Stoglin, once Ross realized -- either by himself or at the suggestion of others -- that is tweet wouldn't go over well, he apologized, saying "I let my emotions get the best of me!!! I want to apologize to #buckeyenation that should have been something I took up with my coaches!!"

I gotta be honest with you here: I couldn't care less about what Ross and Stoglin tweeted.

In fact, I'll take it a step further -- I think their feelings are a good thing.

These kids are competitors. They want to get out on the floor and help contribute to their team, and they are frustrated that things aren't going the way they planned. Do you want a player on your team that is happy about sitting the bench? Granted, there are other -- and better -- ways to go about getting yourself off the bench and onto the court than putting your team and your coaching staff on blast on twitter (and I'll get to that in a minute) but all we know about the situation is that both Ross and Stoglin were unhappy about not playing. In a vacuum, I want players with that kind of a mindset.

The issue, however, is that they vented their frustrations on twitter, and that simply cannot happen.

You see, for those of us that aren't media-types or athletes/celebrities, twitter is less a tool for building a personal brand and more a method of staying in touch, be it with friends living in a different city or the up-to-the-second news cycle. What happens to these college athletes is that they don't quite realize that they've made the jump from being just another random twitter handle to being a twitter user in the public eye. As a result, when they get frustrated, they resort to doing what they've always done on twitter: voicing their opinions to their friends and followers without realizing that now, as members of a high-major basketball team, those followers include beat-writers, bloggers and fans that will make negative tweets a public spectacle.

I do not believe that either Stoglin or Ross were trying to do anything malicious. I think both of them were simply venting their frustrations about a game that didn't go the way they wanted it to. They did so the way that kids these days communicate: on twitter.

And they learned the hard way that anything that gets put on twitter may as well be said at a press conference.

I've written at length before about the benefits of twitter for collegiate athletes and how it allows them to build a brand for themselves post-college. Its a terrific tool, one that Nolan Smith used to help launch a foundation to help children that lost their parents at a young age. Taking away an opportunity from an entire team simply to prevent an incident like this is unfair to the kids.

But these players need to realize that, once they get into school, they cannot use twitter the same way that they did before.

Stop cussing. Don't tweet about drinking or smoking weed. Keep the tweets about girls respectful. And, most importantly, only say positive stuff about your team and your teammates.

Instead of taking away twitter from their players, how about these coaches teach them how to be a public figure?

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