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Redskins and tweets

Ok—so I admit that one of the last things I thought I would be able to write about is how twitter is affecting sports teams. But, since I attended the AMA Sports Marketing event last week, I had an opportunity to hear first hand how the Nats, Caps, and Skins are dealing with new media issues.

At the presentation we were entertained by how social media has changed the face of sports marketing forver. At the end of one presentation—(I think it was from the General Manager of Red Zone, Dan Snyder’s radio arm) the speaker mentioned how the Skins are having to really put limitations on the amount of tweeting that their own players can do, and on what reporters are allowed to tweet. Players right now are forbidden to tweet about personal information. Why?  Well in the rush to be current and up to date on everything, critical information is getting leaked out—and wrong information is actually getting communicated. In a few cases critical trades and hires have been leaked when players tweeted the information. Hardly the way that a news giant like the REdskins wants information sent out to adoring minions. (Just look at the way Paula Abdul handled her own exodus from American Idol, and multiply that by lots of teams and lots of players.)

I remember (from a few years ago when my son was playing football for University of Michigan) that there was a complete lockdown on information on what I thought was the smallest details—like injuries. I remember Max telling me that keeping information on injuries quiet was a strategic advantage—since other teams have the advantage if they know who is likely to start, who is suffering from injuries in practice, who has been reprimanded, and who is likely to warm the bench. Now with the introduction of instant “broadcasts” through twitter—I wonder how much of that strategic advantage is lost.

So this weekend, hearing that the Skins have now instituted a rule prohibiting all news media—except for Snyder’s guys, from twittering, I have mixed feelings. One one hand I totally get it. If the Eagles know that our QB is hurt then they can use that advantage to look at different film. On the other hand, the limitations that Snyder is putting forth feel a little like an abuse of first amendment rights—or else a really good reason to tap into his media and radio networks. But—will those guys be self-censoring?  The answer is yes.

And so the tweets will continue to keep sports fans on the edge of their chairs and certainly checking their iPhones and Blackberries even more often than they are already. The question lies unanswered—will our penchant for instant information possibly harm the sports teams we are all so passionately following?

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