Inevitable: Tweeting Athletes To Soon Be Silenced

Well kids, it’s been fun. Like MySpace and Facebook, you will soon see virtually all pro athletes pulling back from their contributions to Twitter.

Lastings Milledge Myspace Page Photos

(Lastings Milledge on Myspace - golden age of sports social networking)

High profile pros with a plethora of endorsements have, of course, never been inclined to genuinely participate in social networking. But the vast underbelly of rank and file pay-for-players have initially been enthusiastic participants in MySpace, Facebook and now Twitter. Though with the numerous public relations debacles wrought by MySpace and Facebook, you can guarantee that coaches and team officials are doing all they can to discourage players from making unsupervised public comments - via Tweets.

Shaq Twitter friend

(Without Twitter, how will we know where Shaq is eating?)

We’ve always known that major sports leagues have been about controlling the message and discouraging players from having interesting public personalities. So social networking sites are nothing short of a complete disaster for said sports enterprises.

Stephanie Rice in cop outfit

(Without Facebook, we would have never seen the sexier, steamier side of Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice.)

It will indeed be a great day for major league teams and leagues when athletes officially shut down their unprompted, online contributions. But almost as big a beneficiary will be ESPN - the friendly, neighborhood, all-power sports media monopoly in your life.

Larry Johnson Milan Q

(Without Twitter, who will tell us which ladies Larry Johnson is liquoring up?)

To ESPN’s credit, it appears to be embracing social networking by athletes, at least superficially. But sites like Twitter are in no way a positive development for largely old media-bound Bristol.

Kevin McHale Kevin Love

(Kevin Love’s Twitter was the first to let us know that Kevin McHale would be taken off the T-Wolves’ sidelines.)

Twitter levels the sports reporting playing field, meaning anyone with a keyboard can gain instant access to athletes’ innermost thoughts. ESPN spends millions each month to clear traditional access channels to the same athletes, but if they are Tweeting, that access becomes less valuable in many cases.

Mark Teixeira and wife

(Twitter keeps the fiery Red Sox-Yanks rivalry burning bright. Just ask John Henry & Mark Teixeira.)

Like you, I’ve enjoyed the incredibly rare opportunity to read the genuinely candid thoughts of athletes and coaches. But much like an uprising in a Soviet satellite state, I can already hear the tanks being dispatched by NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB front office politburos.

Enjoy it while it lasts.