By: Austin Jensen
One of our most popular blogs of all time was written last week about Fred Hoiberg and his influence on social media. So, I wanted to make sure that all of the Iowa Hawkeye fans out there got a little love as well! All Hawkeye fans know the disappointment that was the 2013-2014 season, but one thing is for sure, it cannot be blamed on social media.
Fran McCaffrey is known as a guy who does not get into social media, and has been quoted on several occasions putting down the use of social media by his players. In fact, after a home loss to Wisconsin, Fran told his players to delete their Twitter accounts. This is because he thought that the negative feedback could be getting into his players heads. Was it?
This is where the debate begins. Was Fran right to tell his players to delete their Twitter accounts? Some believe that it was the correct decision so that his players could focus more on the season and not have as many outside distractions. This is the power of social media first hand, it can be an amazing tool to build up good hype when things are going well. It can also be a powerful tool for bashing if things are going bad, and there is no bigger industry for ups and downs than sports. As a fan of both college and professional sports I am a prime example of loving my teams when they are playing well, and be not so happy with them when the wins are not flooding in. This can make social media a very distracting tool for the players who are simply trying to play their best.
The other side of the spectrum says that Fran made the wrong choice. This side believes that social media is something that is not going away and as a collegiate athlete you must be able to handle the negative criticism. I believe that it is important for players to be on social media, because their fans love to follow them and be “social friends” with them. Social media has helped players gain a greater connection with their fans and visa versa. The popularity that comes along with being a collegiate or professional athlete can cause fans to objectify their favorite athletes seeing them only as high powered athletic machines. Social media allows for these players to showcase their human side and inner character. This also applies to companies allowing their audience to see their human side.
I agree with the people who said that the players should not have deleted their Twitter accounts. With the way the world is today, athletes must be able to handle both the positive as well as the negative comments and not let those comments dictate their performance come game day. At the same time I believe that there is a line to be drawn. I would have a much bigger issue with professional athletes deleting their social media profiles for greater focus, but collegiate athletes are also students. It is the student aspect that gets to me. The student role comes first for 99% of collegiate athletes who will not be playing at the next level. If negative comments from social media distract them from school then I have an issue with that.
Like I have always said, social media is a powerful tool and there are people out there who use it to voice every opinion they have both positive and negative. The world of sports and social media must be able to coexist these days and long into the future. Athletes need to be given the knowledge and tools to handle good and bad press over social media in a constructive way. Fans love having their favorite athletes on Twitter, Facebook, etc. This means that coaches and team management need to accept it and embrace it at the same time.
What do you think about this situation? How would you have told your players to handle this issue? I would love to hear what you think and get some feedback!