- Ryan Corazza
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When Women's Pro Soccer launched at the end of March, it did so with this announcement: some of their players would be Tweeting during games. It was an experiment out of the gate in their inaugural match, and in a press conference shortly before the season, WPS commissioner Tonya Antonucci was quick to say it would be done without ruining the integrity of the game: Players competing on the field would be doing it before the game, at the half and after the match; never from the field of play. Players not in the match would be free to do it throughout the game.
But two months later, some of their top Tweeters aren't doing so in-game. They see it as a distraction. At least one player, goalkeeper Kati Jo Spisak of the Washington Freedom, Tweeted during her game Sunday. (Though it should be noted Spisak did not start or play in the Freedom's 3-1 win over FC Gold Pride.)
It seems this experiment is still a mixed bag. But setting aside the willingness of their players to participate, for WPS, this was a great idea. An upstart women's soccer league in a down economy needs all the exposure it can get. Twitter is an easy way to go about some free pub, and it's never a bad idea to be innovative and ahead of the curve. Even if players see it as a distraction (or perhaps going against the integrity of the game), it is more conducive to Tweeting than many other sports, which would have some real integrity issues.
Like, say, golf.
Yup, LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens is encouraging golfers to Tweet or update their Facebook pages from the course, in round, during tournaments. A major professional tour of golf -- the country club sport in which you are frowned upon for talking during someone's backswing -- wants its players Tweeting and messing with their cell phones. Bivens is opening the door for her corner of golf -- the businessman's recreation of choice, during which some leave their cell phones in their cars during a round of 18 for peace and quiet on the course -- to let its golfers Tweet and mess with their cell phones.
Adding to that, there's still no clear rule on whether cell phones are even allowed during rounds; the LPGA is awaiting a ruling from the USGA on that. The PGA has a rule on this, however: Cell phones are not allowed during competition.
So has Tweeting truly jumped the shark for athletes? Or in this Twitter-crazed age, is this move an absolute necessity for another organization that sometimes struggles for exposure outside of Natalie Gulbis and Anna Rawson?
Before we answer these questions, there's a simple solution that absolves golfers of integrity-challenging Twitter updates if they're indeed allowed to do so just have your caddie do it. Sure, a caddie has to have some extreme focus during a round as well, but a caddie is there for assistance, and is pretty much in their golfer's head all round anyway.
This should solve problems all around: The commish is happy, the LPGA tween fan is happy, and the golfer doesn't have to worry about Tweeting during her round and being taken to task for it. Twin-twin all around.
Washington Wizards center Brendan Haywood hasn't been blogging for too long at Yardbaker, but he's had no problem ruffling feathers from the start. After going hard against Arizona State University and the way it handled Barack Obama's honorary degree, Haywood is back to tell LeBron James he's better than that.
"Whether he likes it or not, kids are watching him and following his example," Haywood writes. "He made a poor choice and I hope if he's put in the same situation next year or down the line, that he learns from it and goes out there and shakes his opponents' hands and does interviews (even if he doesn't mean it) and demonstrates what sportsmanship is all about.
"I think the thing that bothers me most is that he didn't seem apologetic about not feeling the need to shake hands and do the interviews. When you're the face of the league, there's a responsibility that goes along with it. One thing that people don't realize is that I think he didn't shake the hands of the Boston Celtics last year when they eliminated his Cavs from the playoffs. (I may be wrong, but I certainly don't remember him doing it). If this is a pattern, then it's even more alarming and he's got to realize it and be better than that."
Now that the LPGA is encouraging players to add Twitter or other social media to their bags, it's going to be interesting to see if any players pull off updates in mid-round.