By Chris Snider
Special to the Register
Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery told his players to stop using Twitter after fans got nasty with one of the team’s players via the social network.
One player even deleted his account with more than 8,000 followers (or hopefully just changed the username).
That’s McCaffery’s choice. He’s the coach. But as a professor who teaches social media to college students, I thought this was a bad choice. Here’s why:
It was a teaching moment: When you’re a high profile athlete at a major university, there are going to be trolls who criticize you. They will do it on Twitter, on Facebook, on message boards and even scream it at your team bus. This is an opportunity to teach student-athletes how to deal with and rise above these situations. This a chance to show high school students (and younger) who will face the same thing how to deal with these situations.
You’re not addressing the problem: The problem was not athletes on Twitter. The problem was idiots on Twitter. If you remove the athletes, you’ve still got the idiots. And you just let the idiots win.
Social media is completely mainstream for college students: In the past year, I’ve taught social media to more than 100 students, and I’ve run into maybe 2-3 who are not on Twitter. You’re unfairly punishing your athletes by taking away one of their main forms of communication.
It’s not just Twitter: Banning Twitter doesn’t address Facebook or Instagram or Shapchat or Google+ or Vine or whatever social network is launching today. Where do you draw the line?
You’re hurting their future: Twitter is a great personal branding and networking tool. Most of these players are not going to the NBA. But they can be building connections and followers now that will help them be successful in their future career – whatever that career may be.
You’re making the wrong headlines: The Iowa basketball team is ranked and headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time in years. And we’re talking about Twitter accounts instead of basketball.
Chris Snider is a multimedia professor at Drake University in Des Moines. He also is a former digital editor at the Des Moines Register. This column first appeared on his website, ChrisSniderDesign.com.