Several popular and well respected college coaches have taken a stand against the use of Twitter for their student athletes. They are concerned that Twitter is a distraction, and if used, will prevent their players from dedicating the time it takes to be top-notch. They are fearful that if they allow their student-athletes to tweet, they will lose the battle of having solid, focused athletes as a part of their program, and that these young adults may "say" something that could get them into trouble or that they will regret.
Yes! Twitter has the power to be a distraction and to take away concentration from a student-athlete's responsibilities to themselves, their team, and their coaching staff.
Yes! Twitter protocol and acceptable use needs to be taught and modeled.
Yes! Twitter has entered mainstream, and is a part of our technology-infused world.
Yes! This is a teachable moment.
The best way to teach student athletes how to properly interact on Twitter is by tweeting yourself. The best way to teach a student athlete how to stay focused on their athletic responsibilities, school, and their social life, is to teach them how to balance all three, not eliminate one. Coaches have the responsibility to make sure that student athletes know the power of their words, and take pride creating an athletic and academic legacy. Coaches must make sure that their athletes leave their school and program as responsible digital citizens who are prepared to interact and thrive in a technology-rich society, especially as an alumni who will now represent your school and program.
If you ban the use of Twitter, you are releasing the opportunities to teach them how to be productive, thoughtful, responsible communicators. Rather than ban the use of Twitter, create an account and start tweeting yourself. Reach out to your athletes, peers, alumni, future athletes, and fans as a role model of appropriate behavior. See if your student athletes follow your lead rather than resist your apprehension.