NORMAN – There's nothing wrong with Twitter. There's nothing wrong with Oklahoma's football players being on Twitter.
But that doesn't mean some Sooners shouldn't think before tweeting. A little filter would go a long way for some players who feel the need to share anything and everything, without considering the effects of what's being said.
Not to pick on two-thirds of the Cali Trio, but Tony Jefferson and Kenny Stills didn't grade out well on their Twitter usage last week.
Jefferson knocked the bowl opponent and wondered aloud why he wasn't on the coaches' All-Big 12 team. Stills voiced displeasure about practices and the Insight Bowl, itself.
Both then got into a handful of Twitter slapfights with OU fans who were irked by the comments.
Twitter, and social media, is a beautiful thing for connecting with people. It can be used to a person's advantage in so many ways. But it can also be damaging if abused or used too haphazardly.
If I tweeted disparaging or sarcastic things about other newspapers and their writers, surely there would be consequences – either with my employer, or with them directly. What good comes from saying those things? “Dang…Iowa.” What good comes from that?
Even if it wasn't intended to be a slam, really, that's how it's going to be taken. That must be considered before type-click-publish in 0.2 seconds.
Because you can get yourself into hot water just that fast. Ask Jaz Reynolds. Back on Twitter this season, he seemed to have gotten the message after a rather sensational comment about Texas caused a suspension a year ago.
The point is, we are held responsible and accountable for our words and actions, even in social mediums. That's the world in which we live.
The issue for college athletes, Sooners included, is young people are being asked to understand and stay within boundaries that are not clearly defined – but they're there.
Too often, I feel, these Sooners think they're reality TV stars and not football players. They think everyone is watching the show, when they're on or off the field. In that sense, maybe Brody Eldridge was correct in noting – on Twitter, no less – a shift in the program's attitude. Maybe it doesn't shift back, either. Maybe it just must be managed and massaged.
It's often me, you notice, instead of us. That's why it rubbed me the wrong way when Jefferson griped about the all-conference team. He probably had a legitimate gripe, but airing it for everyone to see is counterproductive – especially after a disappointing regular season.
It might hurt him not to be recognized, but that's a good one to keep to yourself. Or go back to the olden days of calling a friend of family member and talk to them about your frustration.
The same goes for digging at the bowl opponent or the bowl, itself. What good comes from that?
Does it make them bad people for saying those things? No. Does it make the team look bad? Yeah, because they're speaking – or typing – as a representative of the team and school, regardless if they realize that.
Further, they're setting a dangerous tone for players older and younger than them. This whole thing ultimately isn't about Twitter – it's about leadership. Like it or not, Sooners fans, Jefferson and Stills are the next generation of leaders at OU.
Players on the team, high school kids, et al, already look up to Jefferson and Stills as skilled players who command attention on the field, as guys who will one day play professionally.
Someone, though I'm unsure who, should sit them down and tell them it's OK to tweet. But they don't have to tweet every single thought that comes to their head, and especially those that might be considered negative in how they impact them as individuals and, more importantly, the team.
A little filter would go a long way.