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Twitter In The World Of Sports

twittersportsAs we all know, 2009 has been a year of growth for Twitter.  It seems like anyone who is anyone is updating their tweets frequently and that’s including high-profiled athletes from around the globe.  Here in the U.S. athletes, coaches and other team personnel who are part of either the NBA, NHL, or NFL, have all been given restrictions when using their Twitter and other social media accounts. 

This has recently caused some controversy, questioning if leagues are violating the First Amendment, which protects the Freedom of Speech.  Twitter actually falls under the First Amendment, but after a little bit of research, there can be restrictions as long as there are alternative methods available.  At the current time, the NBA has banned teams from using social media sites 45 minutes before, during and after the game, while the NFL will not allow twittering 90 minutes prior to the game until press interviews are done afterwards.  The NHL has said there is to be no Twittering from 30 minutes before the game until the game is over. 

The NCCA is currently under investigation at the moment for banning twitter to players in entirety.  That happened after a Texas Tech  player had criticized his coach.

Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs running back, got in trouble Sunday night after tweeting about his coach, Todd Haley, criticizing him after a loss to the San Diego Chargers.  Johnson had tweeted, “My father played for the coach from ‘rememeber the titans’. Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefly. Our coach. Nuthn.” He was quickly responded with angry fans, and after responding with fans and reportedly insulting several fans and boasting about his salary, Johnson made his account private.  The team has asked that Johnson stay away from any team affiliations until further notice.

On the other hand, Dwight Howard, basketball player for the Orlando Magic has been using the power of Twitter to his advantage.  Howard has been using his website and Twitter account to interact with fans in a positive way.  He had promised to pay for an all expenses paid vacation his millionth follower along with a guest who will be in attendance tonight at the Orlando Magic’s home opener versus the Philadelphia 76ers.

Over the summer, Howard also found other ways to interact with fans and posted this on his blog:

I’ve also bought lunch and some copies of NBA Live 10 for some of my followers who could find me in Orlando and Atlanta during the summer, and given away free copies of NBA Live 10 on Twitter, Facebook, and Superfan to fans that could answer Dwight trivia questions. I wish I could do similar things in every city that I go to and for every fan that follows me.

I always thought the “Where’s Dwight?’’ idea was a really good one and I had a lot of fun doing it. I still hope to do it more. The couple of times that I did it, it was craaaaaazy how many people actually showed up.

Howard is not the first and certainly won’t be the last athlete to reach out to fans in a positive way, but Twitter is definatly allowing fans to see what their favorite players are really like.

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