To tweet or not to tweet
The disgruntled Twitter statements of Barako Bull’s Don Allado brought Philippine sports to the flipside of social networking.
Leagues like the PBA, V-League, and the collegiate leagues have already incorporated Facebook and Tweeter as part of their marketing mixes. The social networks allow fans to follow and interact with personalities, a link that sports leagues encourage because the connection can translate into ticket sales, TV ratings and the purchase of merchandising products.
The other side of social networking is, of course, public ranting that allows fans to say what they actually feel and believe.
Facebook entries and tweets may have limited space for characters but this in no way restricts the amount of disappointment that fans can express. Fans can repeat and recycle their comments in a variety of creative ways.
Sports figures who have the time and the patience can create trends and even respond to many social network connections.
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The Allado case, however, is not your ordinary collection of friendly tweets. The veteran cager hurled several accusations over the credibility of the league in the aftermath of his team’s loss to Powerade in a knockout game in the current Governors Cup.
The rants were against officiating. He said there is a conspiracy and the league determines who enters league playoffs and finals.
Commissioner Chito Salud can understand it when fans grumble about the league but will not tolerate it when players or team officials simply take shots at the PBA.
Players do let off steam when they lose and the locker room jabs at officiating are normal in any sports league. But lambasting a league in public cannot be dismissed as just a loser’s disappointment.
Social networks are not exactly TV, print or radio but they are public domains with strong interaction capabilities.
The PBA has every right to police its ranks in all media fronts because its credibility is always at stake as a public enterprise. It cannot afford to have its losing players and officials constantly complaining in public at the expense of winning teams and the league in general.
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After emotionally draining contests, players can forget that there is a way of expressing their grievances within the context of their teams. Through the years, all PBA commissioners have made an effort to listen to the grievances of coaches and team managers.
Results of games will never be changed after properly expressed complaints are sent to the Commissioner’s Office (unless a strong technical reason requires a replay) but work will be done to improve officiating even if it is impossible to have a perfectly called basketball game.
Losing is never easy to accept, and even if social networks do allow you to express what you feel to friends and the rest of the world, one must still be careful with what is punched on a phone or keyboard.
Accusations need to be backed up and the consequences and impact of social network entries must always be considered.
Forums, websites, Facebook, Tweeter and other social networks and their future reinventions are here to stay. We can turn them off every now and then but they are part of our 21st century media landscape.
Like any media platform, they must be handled with discretion by both the senders and the receivers of the messages.