He said he never would join, he said he refused, and he said he didn’t care. Still, after years of condemning it and professing he didn’t want to be a part of that world, Michael Ray Wilbon, the once great Washington Post sports writer and current great ESPN sports writer, has joined Twitter.
Mr. Wilbon has long avoided joining the social network, mocking the childish sounding site and professing to be above it. Still, his beloved and dedicated fans wanted to hear his voice, and a reputable account was created, MikeWilbonSaid, in which quotes Mr. Wilbon has made throughout the years would be posted when interesting, funny, or relevant. The account will continue to remain active as a complement to the actual Twitter handle by Mr. Wilbon.
The creation of an account is important news for sports fans for two reasons. The first, of course, is that now Mr. Wilbon has another outlet for his voice and gives followers a chance to get thoughts on smaller and more intimate thoughts that normally wouldn’t make a column or telecast. He is a wildly popular journalist, gaining fans from both his time writing at the Washington Post, and his crossover to television with the exceedingly popular Pardon the Interruption program, which he co-hosts with fellow former Washington Post writer Tony Kornheiser.
In an article that made the front page of ESPN over the weekend, Mr. Wilbon explains his understanding of Twitter and how he may or may not use it. “I have no game plan at this point, other than to not tweet something that will get me canned,” he explained in a piece combining boyish curiosity with sober acceptance.
The second reason why this is significant is that it illustrates once more the power of social media in the world of sports. If even Michael Wilbon, a man of repute in sports journalism, whose voice can be heard often and is easily accessible, opts for joining Twitter after years of openly refusing, then isn’t it almost vital for all to use to stay relevant?
If is hard to watch any sports program today and not see a handle listed below the name of any talking head. Whether it’s a host of a show, an analyst, former player, or sports writer that has been forced on television, everyone with a voice in the professional world must have Twitter to connect with fans whether or not they have anything important to say via that medium.
Sports isn’t the only arena that has nearly completely joined the Twittersphere. News anchors and TV personalities are all connected; this isn’t news in itself, but it’s amazing in such a short period of time that the public has accepted Twitter as a legitimate source of breaking news and accurate journalism.
“I live in a no tweet zone,” said Mr. Wilbon humorously on the PTI program in the summer of 2009, but now the Real Mike Wilbon is connected and ready to type. In December 2010, Mr. Wilbon left the Washington Post after 32 years of service. He moved to writing online content for ESPN, and in April 2011, he joined Twitter. If ever a person wanted to see a simplified and representative time line chronicling the downfall of The Newspaper as we know it, just look at the last six months in the life of accomplished sports journalist Michael Ray Wilbon.