And with that, Washington State football players have gone silent on Twitter. Truth be told, this was a long time coming. It kind of needed to happen, and a few things prompted the swift action now. But first, the news...
Mike Leach said after practice today that he has banned the use of Twitter by his players.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) October 24, 2012
When asked what prompted the ban, Leach said: "I decided." Said he doesn't even want to see players tweet "I love life."— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) October 24, 2012
That's true, but there was more to the story. As Leach was banning Twitter, Bill Moos was also talking about the platform. Christian has more:
Just spoke with Bill Moos. Said some "vulgar" tweets were brought to his attention today, but Leach's decision was not directive from Moos.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) October 24, 2012
Moos said he backs the decision. "They aren’t bashing coaches or the program or any of that, but it’s not what we want to be perceived ..."— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) October 24, 2012
"...as how our program is represented." Said many player tweets "would not be approved by the Parent Teacher Association."— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) October 24, 2012
Moos said there was a mandatory student-athlete meeting with professional last week to discuss dangers of social media.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) October 24, 2012
Now, before anyone gets hot and bothered, know that there have been some vulgar -- offensive, really -- tweets from athletes. Moos saw some of these, which is like a parent catching their children doing something real embarrassing. He was embarrassed, which in turn makes Leach embarrassed. And you really don't want either of them embarrassed about the image of the team being projected onto the public.
To be perfectly clear, this move isn't about eliminating distractions, giving away team secrets, or even airing team business -- though the latter is something that will get players on Leach's bad side quickly. It's not as though Leach is looking at this like some kind of magic key to winning. Even after an education discussion about the dangers of social media, there were tweets floating out in the world that really shouldn't have been.
I'm all for education and teaching players instead of censoring. But if you've seen how some athletes interact on Twitter -- Washington State athletes and elsewhere -- you know how poor it can look to the outside world. You know, like this one:
It's rather innocent and the uproar was rather ridiculous, but one tweet can create a public relations wildfire that coaches and administrators have to divert resources to control. And Jones' tweet wasn't really vulgar or offensive. Imagine, as an athletic director, being presented with a bunch of tweets from athletes -- without context -- that would make you blush. What would you do?
So, like a kid who breaks a rule, the football team has lost its tweeting privileges. And that's fine. It's not as though anyone was changing the world, one tweet at a time. And, in fact, it's become rather sad to see what some athletes -- again, WSU or not -- throw out on social media.
Sometimes you've just got to kill the whole thing completely, because it becomes downright embarrassing for the whole athletic department when the athletes who are representing the school are doing so in a way that doesn't fit the image of the university. I know they're young adults and they'll say what they're going to say by way of social media, but this was a necessary move, all things considered.