Photo illustration by Lawson Kurtz and Michael Naclerio
In a piece for Sports Illustrated, college basketball analyst and former Chronicle writer Seth Davis called social networking the "worst innovation" of the decade for college hoops:
WORST INNOVATION: Social networking Remember the sickening feeling you had when you handed your kid the keys to the car for the first time? That's how parents and coaches should feel whenever their son/player sits in front of a computer. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter et al. give youngsters a high-profile, unfettered forum to air controversial views, confess to immature behavior and reveal their unsightly spelling and grammar skills. Players also use the sites (and video sites like ustream) to manipulate the recruiting process and maximize attention. Moreover, the networking sites (along with the advent of text messaging) introduce potential for NCAA violations as well as legal-but-non-kosher avenues for agents to approach prospective clients. Is it too late to go back to the dark ages of snail mail and landline phones?
On the one hand, this analysis is a bit ironic since Davis himself tweets. The analyst (@SethDavisHoops) has more than 5,000 followers and has updated his account more than 500 times since he joined May 5.
But even if Davis lamets the increased role that Twitter and other social media may have in the college basketball landscape, even he admits that it's pretty effective. Speaking to The Chronicle last month, Davis seemed to be divided on the issue because he first admitted that he wouldn't allow his players to have accounts on the site if he were a coach, but he went on to note how effective its use has been for Kentucky head coach John Calipari:
“Calipari is an animal [on Twitter and] with recruiting,” said Seth Davis, a CBS college basketball analyst and former Chronicle sports columnist. “He’s got close to a million followers and [as a coach] you want to be relevant, current, reach people where they live.”
So perhaps the "worst innovation" of the decade for college basketball isn't the most accurate label, but certainly it is one of the more influential developments in the last ten years of the sport. The use of Facebook and especially Twitter gives players the opportunity to communicate with fans—at times essentially by-passing traditional media outlets. Take Duke recruit Kyrie Irving, for example, who dictated media coverage by releasing information and making his thoughts public on Twitter. Irving even hosted virtual, impromptu press conferences on UStream.
At Duke, the basketball program has embraced social media. The team's Duke Blue Planet website just released what it is calling a "TweetMixx Channel" that will serve to help fans, "get streamlined access to aggregated news, conversations and links on the team from the true insiders – players, coaches and in-the-know fans." The section of the website will help Duke fans keep up with players like Nolan Smith (@ndotsmitty), Seth Curry (@sdotcurry) and Casey Peters (@Casey_Peters) or even associate head coach Chris Collins.
Is social media a good thing for college basketball? Let us know what you think using the comments section of this page, or follow us on Twitter (@chroniclesports)!
For more information about how the Duke program, its players and college basketball recruits are using social media, check out the following three-part series called "Athletics and Social Media" that recently appeared in The Chronicle: