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If I putt can I not tweet?

September 27, 2010

It would appear that the fuddy-duddies of the golfing world have decided that tweeting and putting do not go hand-in-hand. The 2010 Ryder Cup captains, Corey Pavin (U.S.) and Colin Montgomerie (Europe), have banned their players from tweeting for the duration of the tournament, October 1-3.

First amendment rights aside (since they’ll be playing in Wales, UK), is this not the classic decision by a bunch of old-timers who don’t understand how to create a youthful audience to round out their white, male, 5o-plus-year-old demographic?

At the moment, only four European golfers (Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari) and five U.S. golfers (Stewart Cink, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson) tweet. None of them have gargantuan followings, but I bet if you announced they’ll be tweeting during the match, their audiences and the Ryder Cup audience would increase.

Now, realistically, I would never suggest that professional athletes of any sport tweet while playing. There is something to be said for remaining focused. However, to ban tweets altogether for the span of the event seem ridiculous. Wouldn’t you love to know Tiger Woods’ post match thoughts about a killer putt or a vicious hook into a bunker? Or perhaps his thoughts on the cocktail waitresses at the hotel bar? Tiger doesn’t tweet, but I think he’s missing out on audience gold.

Truthfully, I’m really not concerned about the tweeting habits of golfers, or athletes in general for that matter. However, other people are interested in the ruminations of the physically gifted and over-paid. Why remove that avenue into the psyche of your athletes? Say what you want about Chad Ochocinco, but the guy can capture the attention of the sporting world, all the while playing for a horrible football team in the equally horrible city of Cincinnati. And if you think that isn’t impressive, you’re wrong. Ochocinco has been able to keep the spotlight on a dead franchise by sheer physical ability and lack of a mental filter. And every Bengals fan should thank him for that.

There are a host of sports celebrities on Twitter: Nick Swisher, Natalie CoughlinDwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neil, Jennie Finch, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Danica PatrickAlex Ovechkin, Dominique Moceanu, and Shaun White, to name just a few. Do they ever have anything to say worth 140 characters of my life? Almost never. However, the minute they do, I know I can hop on Twitter and see the insanity from the athlete’s own account. And I like that. Wouldn’t you love to have seen a twitter fight between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors? Or where the best bars in Boston were from Mickey Mantle? Or what number 8,478 was like from Wilt Chamberlain?

Does the potential exist that some juiced-up and dimwitted athlete will say something colossally stupid? Oh yes it does, but chances are, they’ll do something stupid anyway with or without Twitter. So in the meantime they’ll ramp up interest in their team, the worse in the standings the better, and it will be another avenue to draw in audience.

It’s the 21st century folks, I now have at my disposal the ability to get my “news” directly from the athlete without the filter or jadedness of today’s weak-penned sports reporters. Golf fuddy-duddies, embrace the new communication avenues of this century, and feel free to instruct you athletes to come off as literate ambassadors of your sport and not mentally stunted footballers. Think of this as an opportunity, and not a danger to the wholesomeness of your sport. Tiger already killed that anyway.

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