Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sports go social: ESPN's PTI debates Facebook firing, begins to use Twitter

Yesterday while getting my daily sports highlight intake from ESPN's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on the Pardon the Interruption program I heard two topics which caught me mildly off-guard. Among the highlights were, NCAA men's basketball, Ladanian Tomlinson contract talks and Facebook. A recent incident of a Philadelphia Eagles fan turned weekend gate worker who was fired after posting on his Facebook profile status message direct to the loss of Brian Dawkins that said: "Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver ... Dam Eagles R Retarted!!"

Wilbon went onto disagree with his termination, saying that he would rather throw the guy who fired this gate guard out of the organization. In my opinion, I don't think he should have been fired but it sure did merit at least a slap on the hands and a change of employee social media policies. Tony raised an extremely valid point noting that Facebook is public. If they (being the Eagles or any company you work at for that matter) are giving you a paycheck, you have to draw lines. In this case, you are either a fan or an employ and should absolutely support your company's decision or just shut up. It's important for a company's message to be consistent whether you're a giant enterprise technology company or a sports team, a C-level employ or a mail room attendant. Now that the average Joe is capable of reaching hundreds of people, it might be a responsible move for these places of business to enact a series of social media defamation policies encompassing the Facebook and Twitter apps of the world.

Also on the sports social media front, after a discussion between Tony and guest host Dan Le Betard around the rise of sports players using Twitter back in February, the PTI crew came out with an interesting announcement last night. They have launched a Twitter account @PTIShow and actually asked the audience to submit any cool ways to incorporate Twitter into the TV program. I have a feeling, Twitter will at the very least replace the Mail Room segment of PTI in the next few months. If I was in charge, I'd throw in similar hi-def features which are used by the ESPN News HD channel incorporating stats and a moderately censored live Twitter feed on the currently unused side columns.

You can listen to last nights PodCast version of the TV show here (this segment is towards the end).

While writing this, the @PTIShow now has close to 4,700 followers, which is about 1,000 more that were listed last night at 7:00 pm ET. Even though these aren't Dalai Lama Twitter numbers, it no doubt highlights Twitter's increasing mass appeal, popularity and attractiveness for news sources, further extending social technology in sports culture which will continue to diversify it's audience.

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