Debate: Is it a good idea for athletes to tweet?


Brittany Lincicome and Christina Kim got into a tweeting argument this past week. If you were advising athletes, would you recommend that they go ahead and tweet or steer clear of it? Our writers chime in with their thoughts.


Pros, keep tweeting until you develop carpal tunnel.

Just learn from your more reckless peers.

Last month, Luke Donald called architect Gil Hanse an unprintable word on Twitter and had to issue an apology, and then, over the weekend, Christina Kim and Brittany Lincicome engaged in a squabble that never should have gone public.

The takeaway from those blunders is obvious: Take five seconds to review the tweet before you click send. Double-check. That could have saved Donald, in particular – his message was intended to be private.

As for the LPGAers? Well, that was just embarrassing – for the players themselves. They came off as catty and childish. The back-and-forth was reminiscent of a schoolyard scuffle, each clique growing in numbers, the name-calling becoming more and more vicious … until the teacher breaks it up, and everyone is sent into timeout, humiliated. If I’m LPGA commish Mike Whan, I fine them not just for conduct unbecoming of a professional, but for conduct unbecoming of an adult.

Instead of reaching their combined 70,000-follower audience, why could they not settle their beef through a text message, or an email? Remember those other methods of communication? I know, I know. So 2010. But every thought doesn’t need to be 140 characters or less. Sometimes, ideas need to be expanded upon. Crazy, I know.

So, young tweeters, when in doubt, dust off the ol’ laptop, fire off an email. Close Twitter, use that message icon.

You’ll spare yourself the embarrassment.


Seriously? Are we really asking this? This is 2012, isn’t it? OK, I thought so.

Yes, of course athletes should tweet. Depending on their personality, these 140-character bursts can be anything from revealing studies of the inner machinations of their personalities to free advertising for corporate sponsors through supportive shoutouts. Either way, tweets bring the athlete closer to his or her fans and the fans closer to their favorite athletes. It’s a win-win scenario on so many different levels.

If I were offering advice to an athlete on how, what, when and why to make their thoughts public, it would probably mirror the advice my dad gave me on prom night: Don’t be an idiot.

More than ever, it’s easy for an athlete – or anyone else, for that matter – to get himself into hot water on a 24/7 basis. No longer must any of them be summoned to a podium in the interview room or stationed in front of awaiting microphones to have their words travel around the world. It can now happen right from the confines of the living room couch, a simple screen tap of the thumbs causing major headlines.

The advantages of tweeting – and other social media adventures – far outweigh the negatives. Like everything in life, though, tweets must be accompanied by a measure of intelligence and caution to avoid those negative situations.


Twitter feels like a more intimate way to communicate directly with your audience, but there’s nothing intimate about it.

Tweets are public property.

Ultimately, there’s no difference between what you tweet and what you say into a microphone in a TV or radio interview or to a reporter holding a digital recorder. In fact, if you’re going to tweet, treat it just like you would a live interview. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to a reporter, because Twitter is actually less protected than talking to a reporter. Nothing is off the record on Twitter. There is no such thing as `deep background.' What you tweet today can be a headline in newspapers across the world tomorrow.

Twitter is a terrific tool, an effective way to help build rapport and relationships with your audience, but it’s not much different than calling a news conference.

So if you’re going to tweet beyond the game you play, if you’re going to take stands on politics and religion, don’t feign surprise if it becomes a big deal. You are, after all, practically calling a news conference every time you tweet. You might argue differently, but good luck with that.


In the emerging world of new media the rule of thumb suggests that as a journalist you should never tweet anything you wouldn’t write either in a news story or column, an apropos guide considering this weekend’s public dustup between Christina Kim and Brittany Lincicome.

The LPGA duo went toe-to-toe in 140 characters or less with a healthy portion of tweet-dom watching, and as much as officials would have preferred the two keep their row private neither player tweeted anything that they wouldn’t have said in front of a camera or open microphone.

Therein lies the appeal of Twitter – an unfiltered glimpse (at least in theory) into an athlete’s persona free from media bias and the inherent limitations of our sound-bite society.

Why Kim and Lincicome were sideways really doesn’t matter so much as how they settled their differences, with nothing lost in translation or taken out of context. It was social media at its most enlightening, if not entertaining.

Twitter has facilitated a better understanding of players like Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink and, yes, Kim, that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. You may not always like the message, but you can’t criticize the medium.

Let them tweet.