Should Sports Coaches Be Allowed To Ban Their Players From Twitter?
Athletes say and do some really, really stupid things on Twitter. That statement doesn’t come as a surprise, does it? After all, we’ve seen athletes take photos with weed in the frame and post it to Twitter (hi, Michael Beasley!). We’ve seen athletes send @ messages that were supposed to be direct messages (what up, Marcus Jordan?). And, most recently, a Greek triple jumper sent out a racist tweet that got her dismissed from Greece’s Olympic Team. Years and years of hard work went down the drain simply because she couldn’t hold her tongue (or, more appropriately, her fingers) when she thought of an insensitive “joke” and posted it to the social media site.
With all of that in mind, you’d think that more sports coaches would do what Florida State University head football coach Jimbo Fisher just did. He told his players that, effectively immediately, they are no longer permitted to have Twitter accounts. He made the decision after a number of his players got into trouble on the site in recent weeks by doing things like posting rap lyrics about killing police officers. So, he decided that he’d had enough of Twitter and told his players that they’re no longer to tweet as long as they’re part of his program.
It’s his right to tell his players not to tweet anymore. But, should they be required to listen? If they were attending controversial rallies for a cause or doing interviews and speaking on controversial issues, he wouldn’t be allowed to deny them their freedom of speech. So, why should he be able to limit their right to tweet 140 characters to the world? College athletes are already, more or less, playing for “free.” So, why shouldn’t they be able to enjoy the added publicity and celebrity that Twitter affords them? It could help make them more visible to the public and be used as a valuable tool.
The truth is that, if any of Fisher’s players wanted to, they could probably get him to lift the Twitter ban by taking the issue to the school’s top officials. However, to be good teammates, they’ll likely fall in line and stay off Twitter. What they should do, though, is push Fisher and his staff to bring someone in to teach them how to use social media properly rather than just banning it outright. Some of them will be going to the NFL or on to the “real world” next year and they won’t be banned from Twitter once they get there. But, if they’ve never been taught to use it correctly and have instead simply been banned from using it, that will put them at a disadvantage.
It’s not crazy of Fisher to ban Twitter. As we mentioned earlier, it’ll probably save him from the headaches that come along with athletes tweeting. But, it is crazy of him to pass up on the chance to use his players’ use of social media as a learning tool. There are some valuable lessons to be learned by allowing his players to stay on Twitter. But, unfortunately, he won’t get to teach them. And, you know what? #thatsucks