Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart’s shoving of a Texas Tech fan has started a discussion of the role fans play and what they can say to athletes.
Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo says it goes back to what fans say outside the arena of play. Coaches have different rules when it comes to social media. Izzo is an outspoken critic of Twitter, but he doesn’t ban his players from using it. Some football coaches do. Some only ban it during the season.
Some schools put players’ Twitter accounts in the media guide and depth chart. Each strategy has varying levels of success.
But Izzo’s biggest concern isn’t what his players write. It’s what they read. There’s little filter or punishment for vulgar fans. Players can block people on Twitter or choose not to read it, but Izzo knows that’s not a realistic possibility, and it’s adding to players’ frustration.
“It doesn’t matter what you tweet. It’s what you read,” Izzo said on Mike & Mike on Monday. “That’s what I keep telling my guys. We can control what they tweet, to a certain extent. They’re going to get frustrated sometimes and probably say something stupid. But it’s what they read. If somebody’s writing stuff about your daughter when she’s in high school, I’ll bet you look at it a little differently. I’ve had grown men (my players) in my office in tears because of what’s being written. That’s what brings the frustration level.
“Marcus Smart is one heck of a guy. I love the kid. I spent three hours with him, and he’s every bit what they say. But you know what? We all get frustrated, and I think he’s getting grilled on that. We have no way of getting away from it. When you’re in the gym, two hours, they’re yelling at you, you get away, go back to your dorm and life becomes normal. Not anymore. Those same people at that arena are now yelling at you on Twitter. You can say, ‘Don’t read it,’ but I don’t think it’s the way our kids are brought up.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Izzo doesn’t have a Twitter account. One can only imagine how he’d react to vulgar fans if he did.