• Lillie Burke

Just ‘tweet’ it: The curse of convenience of social media in sports

We all know the power of social media, especially at sporting events. We can take a photo from our smartphone, apply a filter on it in Instagram and tag our location in FourSquare. From there we can tweet it or post it on Facebook.

Whether it’s to vent or to celebrate a winning play, we’re all guilty of using social media as our first way to react.

While having access to all of these outlets is convenient, it seems many have hit a point where convenience has become a curse.

I am all for a person’s right to free speech via social media, but when college athletic departments treat tweets like a CEO would a stockholder, but I believe discretion is the better part of valor.

For example, while the coaching records of SEC football coaches Derek Dooley, Gene Chizik, and Joker Phillips spoke for themselves, the tweets surrounding the situations at these schools were rather candid, as fans made themselves human resource experts by analyzing firing and hiring practices.

As many fans use social media as a source for breaking news, there is also an added pressure for reporters to break the story of a coach’s hiring or firing– which can lead to inaccuracy or over-exaggeration of a situation.

Here are a couple of examples of the results poor social media reporting from this week:

Local columnist Joe Biddle reported Louisville coach Charlie Strong had accepted the vacant position at Tennessee. Hours later, news broke that he had done the opposite and wanted to keep his position with the Cardinals.

The same day, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones had his phone blow up with 70 text messages while trying to eat dinner at Cracker Barrel after false reports that he took the head coaching position at Colorado.

Ironically, after all of that hullabaloo, Jones ultimately took the position at Tennessee. I bet his text message count reached triple digits.

While many coaches and players have embraced the use of platforms like Twitter or Facebook, social media can create nightmares for compliance offices. Now not only do athletic departments have to maintain their own accounts, but they are advised by the NCAA to keep a watchful eye on the accounts of their athletes.

Because social media serve as ways of communication, the NCAA has also deemed it necessary to keep an eye on coaches trying to stay in touch with recruits.

Social media has become a necessary evil, and to be frank, has become quite the distraction to sports themselves.

Fans feel it necessary to comment on nearly every play, every game and every coaching decision made so that a person such as myself can follow a game on twitter instead of actually watching it. It’s almost like a race to see who can create the wittiest comment rather than which team can actually win a game.

At the risk of sounding old school, perhaps it’s time we all take a step away from our phones and computers and see coaches, athletes and most importantly each other as people instead of trending topics. If you’ve seen one Instagram photo of the game, you’ve seen them all. It’s more fun to look your best friend in the eye and high five him or her after your team scores their game winning shot than to mention them on the Twitter machine. I promise.

#KatieGreenecolumn #SEC #socialmedia #UniversityofTennessee #Instagram

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