Editor’s note: this interview is being re-run from 11-1-11. In honor of the Big Ten Tournament hitting Chicago in just 8 days (the banners are already up downtown) and the explosive growth of Twitter since then, the issues this interview raises are more relevant than ever.
Like last year’s Big Ten media day, the discussion of Twitter and various social media with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is enlightening and informative. At 2010 conference college basketball media day, the discussion went on for so long (and all of it was enthralling and productive) that it would make for the greatest Spartans podcast ever.
I asked Tom Izzo if he thinks we as people have gotten a better understanding of Twitter yet? Today, have we learned how to better control the technology?
“No, it’s in his infant stage. I think it’s going to destroy some people, I really do. I know there’s reasons for it, I’m not old-fashioned or new-fashioned, you guys (the media) got reasons for it, But I think it’s going to hurt you guys, it’s going to hurt our kids, because no one is that perfect where they’re going to be able to say the right things all the time.”
“Pretty soon you’re going to see tweets of college guys on ESPN, you’ve seen them with pro guys. And that’s going to be a problem, and I’m not a fan of it for that reason. But I know there’s an educational part to it, an informational part to it, but I just think on a day-in, day-out basis, you’re asking a 22-year-old to be perfect, and as far as I’m concerned, none of us are. And once that mistake is make, can you pull it back? No.
Tweeting to me is more about self-improvement and individual build-up, but I think we’re missing the boat. When NBA guys are telling you keep your kids off Twitter and Facebook, there’s a reason. When big time employers are telling you be careful, there’s a reason. You think on a day-in, day-out basis they’re good enough to handle it?
They didn’t grow up with it, they just got it at 16,17, 18. If you had grown up with it, then maybe you’d have a better view of how much it can damage you.
Nobody’s that good. Not you, not you, not you (Izzo points to all the journalists at the table) and definitely not me that every day we’re going to say the right thing. And how do you construe what I’m saying? And how do you construe what I’m saying?”
I then reiterated that we journalists treat anything tweeted exactly like we treat a statement in a press conference.
“Right,” Tom Izzo responded. “We’re trying to tell our guys would you say it on tv? I mean nobody would say half the things they say on twitter on tv, they wouldn’t even speak that way.”
A Fulbright scholar, author and MBA, Banks has appeared on the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB)
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