Students BANNED from Twitter?

My podcast co-host, Tony Pittman (@tonypittman), shared a link with me.[1. Listen to our podcast when we record live next week, to hear Tony and me discuss this topic, and other tech and life related issues.  We are LIVE at Tuesday nights at 9PM eastern Time, and available ON DEMAND through]  The headline read “Butch Davis bans Twitter at UNC.” Reading further, I learned that:

…players are forbidden from using the popular microblogging service.

The decision follows at least two instances where players were told to take down Twitter posts.[2.  Interesting question:  will get a take-down notice from AP?  I have quoted 1.5 sentences from their story.  But the story is only 6 sentences long.  is 25% too much?  Did I add enough “commentary” to avoid their ire?]

My first reaction was “Wow!  Banning the use of a personal tool, on a personal phone or computer–that seems a bit Draconian!”  Then I started wondering what I would suggest instead.  After a little thought (very little) I decided this–he should take the same approach that I have had with my children.Football players are taught, or at least trained, to have discipline on the field, and in their practice regimen.  They must learn daily to control their urge to run over someone, to rush to a position, and rather hold their place, watch the play unfold, and then react.

Twitter (and life) isn’t that much different.

This was a “teachable” moment.  The coach (at the college level) is a teacher, a mentor–a COACH.  Take this as an opportunity to remind the players of important life lessons:

  • Their words and their actions have consequences.
  • They need to learn self-discipline as well as football discipline.
  • They need to understand that what is said on twitter (or Facebook, or even a blog like this one) will take on a life of its own, and perhaps spiral well beyond the few people you thought you were talking with at the time.

Banning them from using Twitter teaches them nothing.  They don’t learn how to engage in a social (network/media) setting.  They don’t learn self discipline.

They don’t learn life lessons that they will need once they are off the field.

Sorry Coach–you lose this game.  And unfortunately this is the only game that matters–the game of life!


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