Washington State coach Mike Leach told reporters his football team is banned from tweeting, effective immediately. Any Wazzu player caught tweeting is subject to immediate suspension.
When asked what prompted the decision, Leach said, "I decided."
This stance is particularly fun coming from a coach who could very well be mistaken for a rambling homeless person if you catch him at the wrong press conference. But Leach isn't the first one to make this move. Florida State, South Carolina, and Nebraska are just a few other programs that have told players to stay off Twitter, and it's likely others will follow suit over the next few years.
Urban Meyer sorta banned Twitter when he took over at Ohio State, then apparently softened his stance, and nine months later an Ohio State player tweeted ...
... setting off a tornado of stupidity that wasn't fun for anyone associated.
Twitter can be problematic. But there are a few reasons any Twitter ban is obnoxious.
1. People are stupid. Half the time people freak out over athletes' tweets, the offending tweet is a rap lyric. Example: A Florida State player who quoted a Lil Boosie lyric about killing police led to Florida police releasing a statement: "For a Florida State University Football player to publicly advocate the murder of police officers is outrageous and hateful. His disparaging language was racist, provocative and violent in an attempt to incite others to violence."
If people read that kid's tweet as a rap lyric instead of a call-to-arms, the reaction would be different. Then he's stupid for posting an offensive lyric, not evil for wanting to kill cops.
Athletes say a lot of stupid things, but just as often, there's a cultural disconnect that underlies the outrage. Banning Twitter basically sides with the confused old people, doesn't it?
2. Football coaches are not God. There's nothing more unbearable than Omnipotent Football Coaches. It's bad enough that everyone seems to love angry control freaks (ROLL TIDE), but now they want to tell players what they can and can't do on the Internet. It would be like a coach banning AOL away messages because they might be seen by the wrong people.
There are ways to educate players without banning social media altogether, but college coaches won't do this, mostly because they don't need to make the effort. It's much easier to just ban it, and there's nobody around to tell them they can't.
3. Free speech. This is a perfect example of a situation that compels stupid people to say, "This isn't about free speech! They're free to say whatever they want! They just have to live with the consequences."
WELL ... When you start creating new consequences for speaking out, guess what? YOU'RE RESTRICTING FREE SPEECH.
We don't need to get preachy, but let's just be honest about exactly what's happening. If you're asking a player to choose between tweeting about the new Kendrick Lamar album or quitting the team and losing his scholarship, that player's freedom is being compromised.
Considering most of these schools are publicly funded, it's an ugly precedent. Washington State football is not a private business, and shouldn't act like one.