Members of the Columbia football team have been caught tweeting racist and homophobic slurs. The tweets were aggregated into an imgur gallery, originally compiled by the sports staff at Columbia student radio station WKCR, that was posted on the college football subreddit on Wednesday night, and "offensive" would probably be a good place to start in describing the contents of the tweets.
These tweets have predictably elicited a number of calls for Twitter to be banned by everyone from individual teams to the NCAA. Some college teams have instituted in-season Twitter bans in the past, but a wholesale banning of the service is silly.
Racism and bigotry have become front and center issues, and not only in sports. This is about more than being upset at kids for using coarse language, it's about trying to change attitudes and make it acceptable for people to be who they are without being harassed for it. I think there should be real consequences for the players sending out these tweets, but taking Twitter out of their hands isn't a good way to go about saying this kind of thing isn't acceptable.
This is what some people like to call a teachable moment. College is about more than just going and getting a piece of paper with your name on it. It's about figuring out how to make smart decisions on your own. Once these kids (and let's remember, they are still kids) are out of school, no one will be able to tell them how to conduct themselves off the clock, and they need to have the ability to self-regulate. Everyone does so differently, but I find that learning from past mistakes is a particularly useful way to go about things.
Twitter is stupid. It's pointless. It's a massive time sink that oftentimes gets in the way of being productive. But the issue here isn't Twitter; it's allowing people to take responsibility for their decisions. College coaches aren't the alpha and omega, and I have a problem with them trying to control every aspect of players' lives. Should there be repercussions for these players? The decision isn't up to me, but I'm certainly not against people being held responsible for their actions. However, there's a sensible middle ground between a total ban and no rules.
Hopefully, Columbia can find it.