Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Breaking News on Twitter

Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where Erin Andrews and everyone else can live their lives without fear of being videotaped through a peephole. Seriously, throw the book at that sicko(s).

Twitter...it's all the rage these days. Mark Madsen of the Timberwolves told the world he was getting traded. Mark Cuban said goodbye to a player today via Twitter. Ocho Cinco...well, he's being himself. And Drew Rosenhaus incurred the wrath of the Vikings today by Tweeting that Aundrae Allison, a WR (and his client), would be released by 5 p.m. today if not traded before then. Of course, with the Tweet going out, his trade value evaporated and the Vikings had to release him.

For better or worse (I think it's for the better), Twitter and other social media are here to stay in the sports world. Athletes, teams and leagues have unprecedented opportunity to engage their fans and build communities around their teams. And lately, sports figures of all kinds have been using Twitter like in the above examples to break news. What are we to make of this, and what implications does this have on the news cycle of the sports world.

First, now the people doing the Tweeting have the opportunity to break their own news. Basically, this gives them the power to shape the message exactly how they want it to come across, which in the case of some of these examples could be quite helpful/valuable. For example, Drew Rosenhaus, in screwing over the Vikings, protected his client's interests...he did his job. And Mark Madsen was able to break the news of his trade to his fans and thank them for their support. This messenger role has typically been reserved for the media, but technology has enabled these sorts of direct correspondences. As Twitter becomes more mainstream, one has to wonder if these examples could usher in a powerful change in the role of all types of sports media...will their roles change significantly, and - maybe even - will they be needed at all?

Second, it's already starting to prompt a series of policies from teams/leagues regulating how their athletes use Twitter and other sites. If athletes have the power to correspond directly with audiences without a filter or an editor, teams/leagues then should feel the need to exercise some "quality control," for lack of a better term. So teams, just like companies everywhere, are adopting policies governing how their employees use social media, and what they can and cannot say online. The Green Bay Packers just became one of the first sports organizations to do this.

The debate has just begun over whether or not teams should have the right to do this to their players, and how media like Twitter should be integrated into the fabric of professional sports. This is a conversation I'd love to encourage here on The Sports Ace. I can see how athletes could want to use Twitter to build their own fan bases and their own personal brands, but I also don't blame teams for unveiling policies designed to keep their players focused on their jobs. One thing's for sure - it's going to be fun to watch all of this unfold.

Anyways, these are a couple of interesting talkers that I've been thinking about recently. What do you think?

4 comments:

David Spinks said...

Trying to keep twitter out is only going to make the players want it more. The NFL, NBA, ESPN, and anyone else who is trying to keep twitter out, needs to rethink their approach.

I think they should embrace it in some areas, while setting restrictions in other times (like during a game).

I lvoe the idea of professional athletes taking a 1 minute twitter update during halftime to connect with their fans.

It will create a more engaged fanbase, and a more excited game time experience.

In terms of media coverage, sports media will face a lot of the same challenges that other forms of media have faced...although I guess if they wanted to, they could control it a lot more since most of their news is internal.

@DavidSpinks

anita lobo said...

Hi Jason,

Twitter moves the power equation in favour of the athlete - sports administrators are going to object more vociferously I think.

The one thing that sports organisations/ team owners/ broadcasters etc aren't comfortable with, is an individual who gathers so much public support that he can take them on, if the need arises.

Which is why I have taken to supporting, cajoling and convincing more sports persons and coaches to get on twitter and facebook.

Without disregarding the role sports administrators play, its time that athletes themselves had greater say - because the spirit of sport lives through their blood-sweat-tears-glory!

Cheers,

@Anita_Lobo

The Sports Ace said...

Great points David and Anita! Thanks for weighing in.

Ryan said...

Jason,

Team's reaction to players tweeting is a feeling that the players are now bigger than the team. It's increasingly becoming more about 'me' than 'we'.

Yes, players are trying to grow their personal brand, but when they can complain and criticize anyone, at any time, it definitely adds something new to the mix.

@ryanknapp