College athletes need Twitter freedom

10 08 2011

There has been a debate the last several days from CNBC’s Darren Rovell, CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel and others on whether college football coaches – college coaches, in general – should ban their players from Twitter. The reason why I think players should have access to Twitter and other forms of social media comes down to one point: people need to make mistakes to fulfill personal growth.

Doyel made a point in his column that he supports Twitter bans; he dismissed the argument that it stymies personal growth. Rather, he argued that there are plenty of other areas in which to mature and pursue a better understanding of one’s self and the world.

The point he misses is that Twitter – social media altogether, but Twitter takes up a huge percentage of most people’s social media consumption –has helped change how people perceive the world. It’s possible to stay on Twitter all day and gather a well-rounded amount of news and information without exploring any other websites. Cut a person off from Twitter, and it can remove a fair chunk of how he or she interprets the world’s events.

Where I also feel passionate about the rash of Twitter bans throughout college football is the idea that it protects players. That’s the last thing those guys need. Protect pre-teen kids, sure. Protect them in high school, why not? But once these guys get to college, they need to be challenged. They need the freedom to make mistakes. If they can’t be trusted to make their own decisions, such as what to post on Twitter, then the people supposedly protecting them are only delaying the inevitable. Some guys can learn from their mistakes. Those that can’t should at least be exposed to failure sooner rather than later.

This isn’t to say that Twitter is the sole basis for maturation. There are other ways, to do it although, as I wrote above, it’s a dynamic platform through which to view the world and to develop opinions.

I can’t write about this topic without mentioning the obvious component to this story: college coaches really don’t give a damn about their players’ growth as people. Coaches care about results on the field and preventing any kind of controversy from surfacing in their program. Coaches care about their jobs, i.e. their bank accounts. Not all coaches are like this, of course. But players have to learn how to look out for themselves while they’re in college. They have to prepare for post-collegiate life by understanding that there won’t always be someone there to protect them. Let them make mistakes. Let them form their opinions and develop their personalities.

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One response

18 08 2011
Jeff

yo nice post. i agree especially with your middle paragraph about how college is the place where they need to be challenged, not protected. Also, Twitter hit college football and NFL by storm simultaneously. You see a lot of veteran players misuse it or get in trouble with it because they’ve never had experience. it’s not like Twitter goes away in the NFL too; college players need to learn how to properly filter what they want the rest of the world to read. If anything, it’s a good exercise in learning how to express themselves publicly.

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