As was first reported on pay sites and the like then later corroborated (ironically through twitter), Urban Meyer's first act beyond forcing the players to meet at 7 AM the morning following a game and long flight back to Columbus was to forbid the Ohio State football players from using the popular social media service twitter.
Much of what needs to be said has already been hashed out in the comments in the Buckshot linked above, however, cutting briefly to brass tacks:
- You either get twitter1 or you don't. If it's not your cup of tea, your opinion is probably that this is a good thing.
- You're not right (at least not in full). Freedom for young people to embrace responsibility while establishing their independence and sense of self/identity is paramount to the college experience, the experience of a student athlete, and what helps establish the tone for individuals for the rest of their lives. Yes, while the majority of what the athletes have to say amount to minutiae at best, it's no different from much of the jawing that goes on around the bunk beds four student athletes share in the towers or in a curiously accessorized off-315 apartment multiple players spend the majority of their times at. There is bad, wasteful narcissism on twitter2, but these kids being themselves don't constitute it.
- If you genuinely believe telling 18-22 year olds to not use a website/communication medium is an effective form of discipline, you're not considering the wide variety of channels and avenues these individuals have to potentially distract themselves. Lest we forget that (now former) Kansas coach forbid his players from cursing as a means to instill morals and self discipline (2-year profanity free seasons of 5-19 football later...) while Louisville coach Charlie Strong attributed a critical November conference loss to the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and the distraction it caused his team. Speaking as someone who would stay up watching golden era seasons of The Simpsons then sleeping through Psych 110, stay in the dorms until the only possibility was to arrive at recitation at asshole o'clock to play an extra quarter of Madden 05 on PlayStation 2, or, you know, forego homework/studying to do the sort of taboo things college students on their own for their first time (and certainly without the time commitment of a student athlete in a money sport), if individuals want to find a distraction from their obligations/responsibilities, they will. Need proof? Call it Facebook. Google+, BlackPlanet, WorldStarHipHop, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or whatever; taking away one channel does not remove the television. If Meyer and co. were carrying out such an initiative strictly for disciplinary purposes, I'd be ripping it a new one for being the same mindless, hollow class of motivating tactics that removing the names on the back of a jersey or taking the logos off a helmet until a player earns them fit into . Without the utmost creativity (or an audience with an attention span shorter than most television shows and an acumen to match), gimmicky ploys like that seldom amount to anything that pushing the proper buttons would anyway (see: the removal of Nebraska black shirts under Bill Callahan or the green Notre Dame jerseys under EVERYONE).
- Lastly, the above premise (that this is some kind of disciplinary tactic) is completely bunk. This is almost assuredly strictly for restriction of trade purposes. Urban and his deputies are masters of pre-emptive crisis communication and they want to control the message by any means necessary. If you support Machiavellian strategery and playbooking from the likes of Rove and Carville, celebrate this move accordingly and get ready for more of the same.
Whew. The further irony of people whining in either direction about the topic on social media (particularly at going to such lengths as to merit our questioning their credentials to even be on it in the first place) is hopefully not lost on us, but what is important is to remember the good times we had. Regardless of your stance on players' freedom of speech/expression or your thoughts on the medium/practice as a whole, laughing is something we all champion dearly. Sure a twitter blackout may snuff out a few amateur level scoops that beat types, bloggers, and fans would love to claim first dibs on (which, you know, is something obnoxious internet comments from the mid 2000's did), but what it will really deprive us all of is the unintentional comedy vicariously living through someone with a uniquely different world view than our own can provide. We begin with food, which Ohio State players left little to the imagination as to what they liked. In order:
- Their mothers' cooking.
- Marketplace (though Dominic Clarke took this one a bit too far).
- Miscellaneous fast food.
While the Genji phenomenon was so wide spread and in such force that it left some of us fearful that a second memorabilia-for-goods scandal could be upon us, in all likelihood instead, these fellas just couldn't get enough MSG:
Just because 140 character bombs may no longer be at their disposal doesn't mean they have to put down that divine Yum Yum Sauce.
Jason already covered it (on twitter, of course), but conveniently omitted from this policy are players who have taken their services elsewhere. Principle amongst them are 11W spirit animal, Keyboard James, and of course our favorite MAC linebacker, The Artist Formerly Known as JNEW55. Never abandon the beautiful dream, fellas.
Ramzy also remembered (again, on twitter) this look back at how the players reacted to one of their own leaving in a way not particularly conducive to their legacy. Another interesting point of view to keep in mind is that many of the players found out about the NCAA sanctions from/through twitter and reacted accordingly. While I don't have those tweets handy (I'll post them at a later time), it's not illogical to think that keeping the means from which they find out pertinent/critical news like that to a single, more desirable avenue (i.e. the coaches) could easily have been part of the OSU brain trust's thinking with such a move, no matter how unfun for the rest of us it may be.
While I'm biased, I won't lie; I'll miss exchanges like this, too. Good to know even Ohio State athletes have great taste in music (#humblebrag):
Of course another great moment from this past year was the "yo [insert famous person] lookin ass" meme the players had going. The premise was essentially to troll or dog one another with how much one player looked/acted/behaved like someone from popular culture. Corey "Philly"/"Philly Bro" Brown was particularly adept at this but the only readily available example was this gem:
Finally, while the prospects of the next James Louis tweeting about how a bird crapped on his head may be behind us, at least we'll always have Ohio State alumni to carry that banner boldly forward and help us remember why the service is such an addicting, necessary form of amusement and distraction:
UPDATE: Rumors of Ohio State athletes on twitter's demise may have been greatly exaggerated:
Beginning with some second guessing from Ohio State's two Corey Browns and ultimately verified by Reid Fragel, who admitted that he had been improperly inferring some things, it appears that there is hope yet that Ohio State will continue the gallimaufry fest that is Buckeye Football players on twitter. The principle irony of course being that the news originated on twitter and naturally none of us decided to give the story its due diligence before running with it. Viva the free flow of adrenaline (and unscrupulous information)!
- 1New York Magazine's Will Leitch has summed up the twitter experience better than anyone else: it is driving us collectively absolutely insane but it is a necessary, warmly snug straightjacket I wouldn't want taken off.
- 2F*** Darren Rovell.