Twitter Policy Good for NBA, Players, and Fans

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According to ESPN NBA Oracle, Marc Stein, the NBA plans to unveil “minimal guidelines for players, coaches and team officials when using Twitter and other social networking sites . . .”  The development of a minimal policy is necessary. The ubiquity and penetration that social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook provide must be properly handled by all those who use it. And let’s face it, some NBA players have not been discreet when using these new tools of personal dissemination.

The exciting thing is that the NBA, which can sometimes be boorish in implementing their rules – the dress code change and the failed new ball come to mind, is adopting a perfectly reasonable policy that will “treat social-networking commentary in the same manner as comments made in the traditional media.” This will allow players to continue to promote themselves and their projects through new media, while avoiding debacles, expletive laden tirades, cries for help, or other embarrassing displays.

Many players already fit into the guidelines. Pau Gasol and LeBron James, for example, carry a strong presence on Facebook. Gasol updated regularly during the Eurobasket tournament, and LeBron has been posting videos and stories promoting the release of his new book and movie. Thousand upon thousands of fans pour their love onto their Facebook walls.

Other players, Stephon Marbury and Michael Beasley for example, have fallen into one of the traps of social networking. They approached it with no filter in mind. They did not think of the consequences of making their personal struggles accessible through social networking – seeing it more as a conduit to their friends and fans, than what it is really is for a person of fame: the most heartless reporter ever. The media frenzy that ensued has wisely caused the NBA to set guidelines.

Yeah, it's 'shopped.  Yeah, it had to be done.

Yeah, it's 'shopped. Yeah, it had to be done.

There is a counter argument to this, suggesting the NBA is doing wrong by their players. For many, freedom of speech is a deservedly cherished right, and it dictates that these players, as legal residents of the USA, should be able to express themselves through social networking as they please. Frankly, I agree. However, I cannot argue that the NBA’s guidelines are not in everyone’s best interest. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they will greatly improve the image of the league and its players. Players may still use much more private settings available through social networking tools to contact their personal friends and family with more intimate details of their lives. Others can operate under pseudonyms to achieve privacy. It might seem inconvenient, but NBA stars must all take precautions. Be it body guards, gated communities, or reserving themselves in front of journalists, all stars need to maintain some form of distance the public.

In the end, these guidelines will serve to benefit all involved. There is a kind of connection that is made through social networking tools that cannot be made through media reporting. Having your favorite baller directly sending you a tweet, or the last compilation of his dunks definitely feels cooler than catching it on Sportscenter, or doing a google search for it. It gives you the sense that they feel the same excitement about the item they are sharing, as you do watching or reading it. That is a connection there not found in traditional media. So the NBA is doing good work here. They plan to let players continue to utilize these tools, but within guidelines that will benefit the image of the players and the league as a whole.

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