A Lesson in Tweeting for the Young Athlete

Hey kids.

First of all I want to congratulate you on your Division I athletic scholarship. That’s neat. And for the rest of you, it’s really something that you got drafted into the professional league of your dreams. You’re going places, men.

And because I want only the best for all of you, it’s time to talk about your tweeting.

I know, I know – You already got that lecture from Coach. No tweeting about politics or weed or top secret plays or pictures of your roommate in his underwear. But I’m going to share with you the Twitter rules you haven’t learned yet.

So pull up your chairs and take notes, boys. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Play nice.

You play sports on national television. Do you know what that means? That means every Average Joe, beer-bellied, ball-cap-wearing, know-it-all is analyzing your performance night in and night out. So when Johnny Armchair (who played QB on his JV team in high school) wants to instruct you on your mechanics and tweet to the world about what a miserable hack you are, IGNORE HIM.

I know he’s a doofus, and you know he is a doofus. But you’re the one who looks like a doofus for having an Internet war with someone who has 17 followers. If a person is harassing you, you must do one of two things: 1) Develop a sense of humor and laugh at how smarty pants he thinks he is about sports or 2) Block him. Only 13-year-old Bieber fans are allowed to cat fight with people on Twitter. You, as a high-level athlete, must take the high road.

2. Break some hearts.

If you’re a well-known ballplayer, you are going to receive several tweets akin to the following:


Do not give in to this madness. And if you re-tweet this pathetic person, you will only encourage more pathetic behavior, and the cycle will never end. It is the single-most annoying thing you can do to your followers. All these re-tweets do is clog up our timelines and make us lose a little faith in human dignity.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t interact with fans. If a fan sends you an adorable photo of his little kid in your jersey, you best re-tweet that shit. If a fan asks you a great question or thanks you for signing autographs after yesterday’s practice, reply to them. But for the love of all that is good and holy in this world, do not re-tweet the caps lock maniacs. If their happiness depends on your re-tweet, then they need to get off the computer and find themselves a life. You’re doing them a favor.

3. Porn stars are bad for your image.

Gentlemen. I know your hormones are raging right now, and you’re all high on yourself because you just bench-pressed a Mack Truck at workouts this morning. But I cannot begin to tell you how silly you look when you hit on porn stars via Twitter. I know you love the attention, but I’ll break it down for you: If a young lady’s Twitter avatar is a photo of herself bent over in a G-string, you aren’t getting her undivided attention.

I’m not telling you what to watch or whom to talk to in your free time. But remember your mama reads your Twitter. And so do thousands of grossed out fans.

4. Think. Think real hard.

…and then think again. And then pray on it. Then ask your mom about it. And if it still sounds like a good idea, you can tweet it.

If I say something stupid on Twitter, I’ll probably get made fun of by a couple of my closest friends. If you say something stupid on Twitter, you will get made fun of on “SportsCenter.” It’s not fair, but that’s the cross you bear for making the big bucks. So before you talk about how you don’t understand why anyone wants to be gay (Mike Wallace) or tell everyone Osama bin Laden can’t be all that bad (Rashard Mendenhall), take your fingers off the keyboard.

Twitter is not a locker room full of your buddies. Twitter is a worldwide public forum full of vultures who cannot wait to turn your thought bubbles into your demise.

5. Remember the little people.

Remember that what you say is not only a reflection on you, but also a reflection on your teammates and on your organization.

Oh, you’ve heard that in your lectures before? Let me put it this way, then: Your handlers ain’t your mama. Neither your team’s PR staff nor your agent should have to clean up after you when you go spouting off about something moronic on Twitter. It’s their job to represent you, yes. But you should be representing yourself as well. Don’t make it hard on them.

OK, you can stop taking notes now. I hope at least some of my wisdom has resonated with you. Remember – It’s because I care.

Now go forth and tweet, my friends.

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