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Thursday, May 13, 2010

No More Tweets for Fox's Hounds

Trey Thompkins doesn't exactly overwhelm anyone's cell phone with his Tweets, but this one from Tuesday afternoon turned a few heads:

"Twitter World, don't expect anymore interesting tweets from me and @TLeslie... Don't ask why but there will be NONE ANYMORE!!!!"

The @TLeslie is teammate Travis Leslie, and the new rule banning the pair -- and, supposedly, the rest of the Bulldogs basketball team -- came from Mark Fox.

But why weren't we supposed to ask why?

Thompkins' Tweet certainly sounded mysterious enough, but Fox, as it turns out, swears there's nothing to it beyond his desire to have his players focused on nothing but hoops.

"I want our players to focus on our team, and I told them I don't want to hear a bunch of Tweets," Fox said. "It's about going into the offseason and getting better."

Seriously? No one Tweeted anything that ticked him off? It's all about focus?

"That's just another distraction," Fox said of players' Twitter accounts. "We've got to focus on going to school, going to work, getting better and earning the respect back for Georgia basketball. I want more focus on that."

OK, I suppose that's understandable. But Fox isn't exactly the old man who doesn't understand these newfangled contraptions like Twitter. In fact, he won an award as the SEC's top Twitterer last year and continues to update fans on all kinds of goings-on, from golf outings to lunch at Weaver D's. The difference, Fox said, is motivation and resonance.

"I did it to get interest back in our program, and I'll still do it some," he said. "But I'm not going to Tweet that I got up and shaved in the morning or what time I went to bed. It's just too much information."

Given the number of Tweets I've read from players that made absolutely zero sense to me, I'm all for sticking to Tweets that either contain legitimate information, interesting tidbits or stinging sarcasm.

But how do Fox's players feel about the new edict? Ah, he doesn't really care.

"I don't know if they accepted it or not, but that's how it is," Fox said. "I haven't completely outlawed it, but I want them to understand the importance of -- it's one thing if you don't expect to be any good and I'm trying to rebuild some confidence in you. A year ago I was just trying to rebuild confidence and pick them up off the ground. OK, well, you're off the ground now, and I expect more. This is just part of it."

Fox's new rule was passed down just as his team started the summer and ended the spring semester, and Fox said he wanted a fresh start. Of course, it also coincided with a bit of love the Dawgs got from ESPN's Andy Katz, being listed in his preseason top 25.

So while Fox is probably being completely honest when he says his motives were to encourage focus on basketball, he may have also been thinking about the importance of reminding his players they haven't earned anything yet.

"Some people think you're going to be good, but you've still got to be good," Fox said. "The goal is to be ranked in the top-25 at the end of the year. I don't think they hang a banner up for the preseason poll."

Now, I subscribe to the Twitter feeds of a number of current and former UGA athletes from various sports, and indeed there are a few sent out that have made me cringe. Last year, Jeff Owens took some heat for his perceived poor eating habits, which were well known due to his routine Tweets about trips to Waffle House. I've gotten more than a few Tweets about players out downtown at rather late hours. I've read plenty of Tweets about players and the girls they've befriended -- though none particularly tawdry or revealing.

On the other hand, players like Mike Moore and Rennie Curran routinely post some exceptional comments that are not only an enjoyable read but provide some firsthand insight into just how hard these players work and how seriously they take their jobs.

All that is to say, I can see why coaches could see Twitter as a potential problem. I can also understand why fans would think it's a great way to feel a bit closer to the players they root for.

So what do you guys think? Do you like being able to read the thoughts of many of UGA's players via Twitter? Or do you think it's a scandal waiting to happen?


jferg said...

I'm all for this Twitter ban. I think tw things can be learned here:

1. They need to focus on basketball and remove silly distractions in a year where there is actual promise of a winning squad. Something pretty rare as of late in Athens.

2. Our two future NBA-ers need to begin to learn how much information to share with the public and how much to keep private. Our fans and media these days will soak up all you can give them...but a large portion of their lives needs to remain private and this is a great way to begin teaching that to these guys. Fox is right--tweeting personal things like shaving, bedtime, food choices, etc is too personal. If they want to tweet like Rennie and talk about work ethic and practicing fundamentals, more power to them. I'm sure Fox would agree.

Anonymous said...

Scandal waiting to happen. Too much downside risk.

HVL Dawg