Tweeting and twittering

The story of the AHL returning to St. John’s highlights the ups and downs of social media’s relationship with sports.


The word itself is an irritation. An onomatopoeia that is, quite literally, for the birds.


It’s more or less incessant tweeting, maybe the type that wakes you up from a nice late sleep on a weekend. Thank the birds for that too.

And yet, put it on the Internet with a little blue mascot and a character limit, and it changes the world.

As a writer it saddens me that the generation coming behind mine will not know the actual meanings of words like twitter and tweet, but rather that they’ll associate them with the banal ramblings of overpaid athletes and unreliable news sources.

They’ll certainly never pull a pillow over their ears and then heave it at the wall in frustration before shouting “stop that damn twittering!” at the flock of starlings that woke them up on a Sunday morning.

But the concern goes deeper than a generation so lost in LOLs and OMGs that words won’t have meanings and such gibberish will.

Sports needs its filter

It permeates the sports world, leaving direct contact with an entire industry that needs to have a filter just to keep its ridiculousness from overtaking us all.

Actually needs it. Teams and leagues spend millions on media management courses for athletes, hoping to cover up the silly things that often come out of their mouths.

Behold them in their glorious, heat-of-the-moment stupidity, for they are human and they err. All you have to do is follow them.

It’s not the fault of the athletes; we all say stupid things from time to time. It’s just that not all of us have a camera in our face when we say them. Most of us don’t, in fact. Hence those media management courses are money well spent.

Now though, unfiltered nonsense straight from the source has overtaken sports media.

Disgruntled wide receiver wants a pay raise? He’s tweeting it.

Backup goalie thinks he should be getting more minutes? He’s tweeting it.

Coach doesn’t think he should have been fired? Oh you better believe he’s tweeting it.

And there’s nothing to protect them. Behold them in their glorious, heat-of-the-moment stupidity, for they are human and they err. All you have to do is follow them.

As we blaze the trail in this world of new media, the would-be “old” media err too. Sure, it’s more fun to point fingers at stupid tweets from athletes, and people probably care more about those, but there’s enough to go around.

Look no further than our own AHL shuffle to see that much.

Twitter has no filter – that’s the point

Not long ago word got out that when the NHL returned to Winnipeg the trickle-down would put a relocated Manitoba Moose squad in St. John’s.

The first word? A tweet from John Shannon of Sportsnet.

I will be totally honest when I tell you that my story the following day was independent of any other media outlet. A source dropped some big hints to me about the potential move a few days before the Shannon tweet, and I ferreted out what I could on the matter. I didn’t even know Shannon had tweeted about it until Martin Connelly broke down the chronology of events several days later.

From that point, it really took off. A mish-mash of tweets, quotes, claims, accusations, denials, and explanations from every which way.

The Twitterverse, as the kids say, “blew up.”

Another local outlet took to Twitter with a report, national outlets picked it up and tweeted and re-tweeted it, while other parties involved took to Twitter to deny it. Still others, be they fans, media, players, or whoever else, were on Twitter just to weigh in on the matter. Some coverage took place in traditional media, but the vast majority happened in 140 characters or less.

That’s an interesting phenomenon, but also a slippery slope.

Who has facts? Who talked to people in the know? Who’s just out there stirring the pot, laughing at all the people scrambling to re-tweet a red herring in an effort to be first on the story?

Again, the dangers of working without a filter. Nobody really knows what anybody really knows.

As it turned out, Danny got his Moose and was on the steps of Mile One Wednesday to tell the city they’d have pro hockey once again. The bulk of knowledge about the deal finally being struck? It came from legitimate media sources, not from Twitter.

The moral of the story?

Don’t count your chicks before they hatch. Their twittering might drive you insane if you do.

For more on Indy Sports and movies follow Matthew on – you guessed it! – Twitter, @matthewjryder.

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