Technology is bound to affect sports in ways we could never have imagined. An example happened last week in the NBA. It was the convergence of wireless computer technology, the internet and a new social networking service called Twitter.
Twitter is a social networking site that allows users to post quick thoughts to the internet. Examples might be, “Dick hates shopping, but he’s going for groceries now anyway.” Those of you who have used Facebook have a similar function called “Newsfeed” comments that you post by filling in the “What’s on your Mind” box.
Milwaukee Bucks forward, Charlie Villaneuva made news last week by posting a Twitter comment during the half-time of a game against the Boston Celtics. It was a simple message – basically that he had to step it up in the second half. And he did. And his team won the game.
However, this half-time Twittering was frowned upon by his coach, Scott Skiles, who felt it left the impression that his athlete was playing with his computer at half-time rather than focusing on the game. Villanueva disagrees, saying it didn’t interfere with what normally goes on at half-time during NBA games. However he won’t be making any future half-time posts.
But aside from heckling, such close interaction with fans DURING games, is certainly a new development. And it can lead to a number of issues, especially since such computerized communication is two-way. For example:
- The potential for disturbing, distracting messages from opposing fans. Or even from Mom, telling you that you forgot to take out the garbage.
- Coaching, in sports where coaching usually doesn’t occur during games , i.e. tennis, golf, badminton.
- The disclosure of information that can be used up by opponents – who may be reading these tweets on a cell phone from the other bench. For example, “Coach says we’re going full-court press with two minutes to go.”
- Insider information to bettors. Certainly at the elementary and high school level, this shouldn’t be a problem. But there is the potential for abuse at the college and professional level.
And what’s next? Distance runners with earpieces getting tactical information like in NASCAR?
I do appreciate Villanueva’s attempt to keep a close connection with his fans during games, but maybe this is one step over the line.
Dick Moss, Editor,