Last Wednesday, the Lewiston Tribune printed an article by longtime coach Nick Menegas. The article spoke of social media, Twitter to be specific, and the negative effect it has on today's athlete and society.
I read it and was confused. Although there are some negatives with Twitter, as there are negatives with anything, there are also tons of great aspects about it that I would like to shed some light on.
Who am I and why listen to me? I was a long snapper (the guy who snaps the ball to the kickers) at UCLA. I am now a private football coach who is based in Lewiston. I train long snappers at camps across the country.
That is merely one aspect of my job. I also rank them and help them get to colleges. Last year, I had over 75 of my long snappers go on to play college ball. I am a very avid user of social media. I encourage my athletes to appropriately use social media to stay connected and promote themselves.
Twitter (think of it as merely mass texting in which you get texts/info from those you choose to follow) is a great thing that can be a valuable asset for people and businesses. In the Lewiston sports world alone, think how much easier it would be for parents if the local high school had a Twitter account to immediately announce highlights, pictures, scores and players during the games to family members who maybe can't be in attendance at every single event. Imagine simply looking at your computer or cellphone and getting updates about your son's/daughter's game since you couldn't make it all the way up to Coeur d'Alene. Wouldn't that be great?
Twitter can be used improperly, of course. Just like anything, put it in the wrong hands, bad things can happen. Can it hurt an athlete's image? Absolutely. Here is the best part about Twitter: If I am a parent and I don't like what "Joe Athlete" is saying on Twitter, I simply don't follow them. If I don't follow someone, I don't know what they are saying and it doesn't affect my children or me.
Twitter can also benefit professional athletes and their fans. Coach Menegas mentioned how all he knew about Jim Brown was what he read about him on the sports page. That is true, but why wouldn't you want more from someone who you admired? Imagine how much more he could have benefited from Jim Brown if he was allowed a bit more into his personal life. Maybe see him as more than just a jock? Maybe showing a fun personality? Maybe hearing Jim Brown offering up advice on football or life? Maybe hearing his thoughts on a movie, a restaurant, a game, etc.? Maybe making him more accessible and therefore more human?
And, in saying that, imagine how much Jim Brown could have benefited from Twitter. More fans mean more endorsements, which, in turn, would mean more money for him and his family.
Twitter, and social media in general, should not only be utilized by professional athletes. Social media needs to be embraced whole-heartedly by the youth. It is a way for them to follow their dream school, maybe a college athlete they like, a coach they would like to contact (the NCAA has not sanctioned against this, so why not utilize it?) or even have a conversation with other fans.
The world of sports, like the rest of the world, has changed drastically since the days of just reading about your favorite athlete in the paper. Think about it. You now have several all-sports channels on TV and radio. And, with Twitter, the sports world has become even more visible and immediate. Society wants things now and Twitter allows that for the fans and the athletes.
The world is advancing, changing and getting quicker. It is not stopping and either you get on the train or be prepared to get ran over.
"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning."
- Benjamin Franklin
Rubio runs RubioLongSnapping.com and RubiosBlog.com. He played football at UCLA from 1993-1997 and is active on social media on Twitter at @TheChrisRubio and Facebook at Rubio Long Snapping. He can be emailed at Rubio@RubioLongSnapping.com.