Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Little Bird Told Me…

frontpage-bird In late September, the football coach at Texas Tech outlawed Twitter for his team, as reported by ESPN:

Coach Mike Leach said Monday he has banned his players from using Twitter after one of his linebackers noted the coach's tardiness to a team meeting in a tweet Sunday, one day after the Red Raiders lost 29-28 at No. 12 Houston.

Now, publicly criticizing your coach for being late is not a wise idea, especially after a close loss. Marlon Williams, the linebacker in question, has learned an important life lesson. However, Leach goes on to make it clear that he just doesn’t get Twitter:

"I think that a guy who plays college football gets enough attention," he said. It's "a bunch of narcissists that want to sit and type stuff about themselves all the time. We'll put mirrors in some of their lockers if that's necessary but they don't have to Twitter."

Before I began tweeting, I wondered why people wanted to know what I was doing. It did seem silly and narcissistic, but then I signed up. Twitter isn’t really about what I am doing; it’s about pointing people to interesting things I have found on the web. It’s about spreading the word for an online petition or a fundraising event. It is about what my friends have found. It is just another form of communication, like the phone or email or texting.

Today one of our medical librarians sent me a link to a posting with 140 ways Twitter might be used in healthcare. We have already seen its power in political events, like the Iranian “elections” earlier this year.

The coach at University of Texas, Mack Brown, takes a different approach to Twitter and other social media, since he believes banning its use could be illegal:

"It would be a football rule and when they're students away from us, they really are under the guise of the university more than football," Brown said. "What we have done is encouraged them not to be on it. If they are on it, then they need to be classy and not put anything on there that they don't want their mom to read. These kids think that they're just in conversation with buddies, and that's public information."

Brown said he encourages Longhorns players to step back and think about the ramifications of what they post -- not just now, but in the future.

University of Missouri has promoted tweeting by Sean Weatherspoon, a senior starter. His tweets have not revealed any team secrets or inappropriate information, but they do give us a peek into the life of the college athlete.

Twitter can be used in many ways, and I have been surprised by its usefulness and entertainment value. Of course, I would never tweet if my boss were late to a meeting; I have learned something in my 48 years on the planet. I bet Texas Tech linebacker Marlon Williams never does again, either.

All quotes are from the coverage by ESPN.


  1. Twitter is also a good tool of journalism. Not necessarily to use in a story but to see how journalists write, what they do, and a good way to reach their interests. Social media is the new tool today. Twitter will be replaced in the future but right now it is a good use of business information also. The ban of this tool is not fair to a college sudent, athlete or not, it is an invasion of their free speech and maybe the coaches should not be late or have the freedom to say why.

  2. The coach should be able to set limits on content regarding the football program (like Mack Brown did), but banning Twitter (and not Facebook, My Space, Blogs, etc) seems wrong.