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26/01/2010 by

“Ban Twitter” Bandwagon Rolls On

Twitter and professional sports. On recent evidence it seems as good a combination as fish fingers and whipped cream.

And I’m not talking about the blatantly obvious mismatch of a website heavily adopted by the online elite and an activity that would require one to actually step outside their bedroom/parent’s basement (choose as appropriate).

No, I’m talking about the fact that sports teams and the organisations that govern them seem to be jumping on the ‘ban Twitter’ bandwagon. A band wagon that started rolling when Marc Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks was fined for his use of the micro blogging website to critisise a referee on his performance. His tweet cost him a healthy $25,000 – perhaps the NBA should talk to Twitter about monetisation strategies.

A few months later the band wagon gathered speed with the NFL banning the use of Twitter before, during and after games. And like most trends originating in the States, this one soon found its way across the Atlantic.

Former Spurs player Darren Bent was trying to help smooth his transfer from Tottenham Hotspurs to Sunderland by articulating his intentions to chairman Levy  on Twitter:

“Do I wanna go Hull City NO. Do I wanna go stoke NO do I wanna go sunderland YES so stop f****** around levy”

Ryan Babel, perennial benchwarmer at Liverpool FC, got so sick and tired of collecting splinters up his backside he decided to broadcast his disappointment on Twitter:

“Hey people, I got some disappointing news, I m not travelling 2 Stoke.. The Boss left me out the squad. No explanation..”

His cry for attention cost him a week’s wages, alleged to be $60,000 – making Cuban’s fine seem like peanuts. And people thought Kim Kardashian’s tweets were expensive.

This news was shortly followed by the announced from both Manchester United and Manchester City, in a strange act of unison which will certainly have displeased some sections of their fans, that their players are prohibited from using social networks.

“The club wishes to make it clear that no Manchester United players maintain personal profiles on social networking websites.Fans encountering any web pages purporting to be written by United players should treat them with extreme scepticism.”

Shortly hereafter a PR spokesperson for Manchester City presented a slightly more nuanced view than had previously been reported:

“I think there was a little confusion in the Manchester Evening News article which suggests we forbid players from setting up social networking sites. I would like to clarify that this is not the case.  We have a Code of Conduct for our players and one guideline states that we expect players not to disclose sensitive club information via such sites. But we do not forbid their usage.”

In any case, this begs the question —> how should sports teams approach Twitter? It seems for now it is seen as a threat, rather than opportunity – is that likely to ever change?

As always we’d love your thoughts.


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Daan Jansonius
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