There has still yet to be a universal proclamation from a sports league commissioner as to what to do about Twitter, as policy continues to be at the discretion of a coach, general manager, or owner. Yet everyone associated with sports simply offer their admonition and constantly suggest a touch of discipline when it comes to the social networking site. In college sports, however, another coach has added his team to the list of non-tweeters.
Turner Gill, head coach of Kansas, directed his team early last week to permanently log off of Twitter, as per new team policy, citing distraction and potential for problems as the main reasons.
Gill is not the first coach to implement such a strict policy concerning Twitter. Last season Chris Petersen, head coach of Boise State, banned his team from using the medium as well. Whether or not it influenced his team, the club posted a 12-1 record that season. Kansas went 3-9 last year, so any potential distractions that are eliminated would suggest a positive step forward this year.
The Jayhawks are the first team in the Big 12 to have an official team policy that bans Twitter. Many players in the conference have their own accounts, including some Kansas players that were forced to deactivate them. The Oklahoma Sooners have a private policy for Twitter, and it would seem it only regulates what players generally can and cannot say—receiver Kenny Stills had his tweeting freedoms taken away earlier this year for some errant tweets.
Despite players on Kansas earning a following over the past year, Head Coach Gill decided that form of attention wasn’t good for the team.
“Someone brought up the issue about Twitter,” Gill told reporters after a practice, according to ESPN. “How that can be a distraction, per se. The reason we decided to not allow our players to have a Twitter account is we feel like it will prevent us from being able to prepare our football program to move forward. Simple as that.”
It is hard to argue with that logic, and at the collegiate level it is not only perfectly understandable, but well within the rights of the coaching staff to ban such practices. It is the coaches job to put together a winning team, and should the team continue to fail, he will be among the first ones to go. By eliminating Twitter, Gill eliminates any chance of a players going online in the heat of the moment, perhaps after a tough loss, and saying things that he would soon regret.
Still, some players seem savvy and responsible enough to engage fans across the inter-webs. Receivers Daymond Patterson and A.J. Steward created some funny videos of themselves earlier this year competing against the soccer and basketball teams on campus. They were intended as promotional tools for the club, but also as entertainment, as they made their ways to the ESPN airways. They were posted on the Jayhawks Vimeo page, seen here.
Do you think players using Twitter helps or hurts a team, especially when they are in their late teens and early twenties? Does the elimination of a distraction off the field help performance on the field? With other teams and players available directly to fans on Twitter, does it hurt the potential popularity of the Jayhawks? If you were a coach, what would you do?