Spanning the Twitterverse: 2011 – An Eye Opening Hello

Spanning the Twitterverse to bring you the constant variety of tweets
The thrill of the retweet and the agony of the unfollow
The human drama of the twitter timeline
This is CadChica’s Wide World of Tworts

2011 – I’m glad you’re gone (well almost).

I shouldn’t say that. 2011 was the year I started this blog. Such a brilliant title too “Hello World“. Definitely not my best work but you have to start somewhere right? And start I did.

Being on Twitter for over two years, I didn’t start out with a sports intent. As time progressed though, I knew that there was an untapped medium in Twitter with a sports context. As Twitter has grown in the sports realm over the last year, my blog has had to evolve. One thing has remained, however: tweets.

It doesn’t matter whether there has been a great game or match, or even another sports scandal, the tweets have always been at the core of this blog. Whether I am covering the day’s hot topic, follower numbers or an opinion based piece, it’s always about the tweets. But tweets can’t happen without replies, questions, follows, RTs (re-tweets), mentions and my favorite LISTS. As I’ve grown on Twitter and this blog, I’ve created my own niche, if you will; that of a Twitter-only reporter. This tweet from back in May with a link to this idea confirmed my “niche”:

It’s not easy being a Twitter-only reporter. Some don’t quite get the concept being a Twitter-only reporter. Certain media members do not see the need for it. They have ‘some’ of their people already on Twitter, thus, no need for “just” a Twitter-only reporter. Still others, well, they don’t even understand Twitter so trying to explain a Twitter-only reporter would be fruitless.

As a ‘reporter’, I have to follow people, ask questions, re-tweet, mention people (connect people also), reply to those who ask me questions and have lots and lots of lists (for lots and lots of sports). As a ‘reporter’, I connect followers (and those who have me on their lists) with sports news and information throughout the day, covering a wide spectrum of topics. Nobody that I know of, outside of a major sports network does what I do.

I’ve learned a great deal about sports, media, athletes, sports business, and the fans. Sports, while I love them, is business; prone to scandal, corruption and yes, even heartbreak. Media, sports media, can be a cutthroat business…even on Twitter; egos, etiquette or lack thereof. Meanwhile, it’s not really news to me but some fans get it and some fans don’t. But the extremist views of some fans was eye-opening to say the least.

“Go kill yourself.”

That seemed to be a “popular” term used by fans this year. ‘Fans’ would tweet this to various media, athletes when something they tweeted made them angry. While I would prefer to include a tweet here, I do not know the “legalities” of publicizing tweets of that nature. So, I will err on the side of caution and not include them.

But I can tell you that I have seen that type of tweet more than should be seen. Once, is too much for me. What would possess someone to tweet those words to someone they disagree with is beyond me. After seeing those tweets repeatedly, I decided to write a post for fans called Sports Fan’s Guide to Twitter. The subtitle is “5 Ways To Tweet Like A Champ” but it could also be subtitled “How Not To Be A Jerk” on Twitter. A worthwhile read if I do say so myself.

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While this is an end of the year post, I would be remiss if I didn’t include some issues that really stood out for me. 

Roger, The List & #FreeBruce: On a lazy day in July, Twitter exploded with stories on multiple sports fronts. NFL still had their labor dispute but that moved to the back-burner quickly when news broke about a “mistrial” request in the Roger Clemens trial. But wait! There’s more! 

What I thought was an innocentmust follow” list by Sports Illustrated, turned into snippity, back-biting, whining tweets from some in media. I didn’t include most of them in the post but this incident was an eye-opener for me in terms of sports media culture. 

But the creme de la creme of the day was the #FreeBruce story. Two media stories in one day showed a side of sports media that I never knew before. And that, for me, is the beauty of Twitter. Whereas before, a story like the “suspension” of well-respected and longtime ESPN’er Bruce Feldman would have been minor news to fans, if even news at all, Twitter has brought media issues to the forefront of everyone. 

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Rashard Mendenhall Tweets Osama Bin Laden: Twitter is a medium for communication and open dialogue. People are free to tweet anything that may be on their mind; free-tweeting if you will. As Twitter has grown, however, the learning curve has been steep for some people. Unfortunately, the more one is in the spotlight, the more scrutinized your tweets. Such was the case for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall when he tweeted about Osama Bin Laden’s death. 

Moral of the story: Not think before you tweet but rather…..Tweet Wisely. The Whole World is Reading. 

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Unfollow Announcements: One of my biggest pet peeves is the need to announce you’re unfollowing someone. I’ve never quite understood this concept. It’s as if people think the announcement will change the behavior of the person they are unfollowing. Or, as if it will cause that person to apologize or be upset they’re losing a follower. It drove me batty enough that I had to write about it. My motto: “Just Unfollow Okay?”. 

I’ve used that motto in deciding who in sports media I will follow or just put on one of my many lists. I get it. Ego can play a big part in sports media or any job for that matter. But when that ego comes through so big on Twitter I find that I have no use for that person. While some fans can be stupid and obnoxious in tweets to media, the same can also be said for certain members of the media. “Peter King Unfollow Again“.

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MY LIST: I am just a gal in the Pacific Northwest who loves sports and Twitter. I try to bring great content in a variety of ways on both Twitter and my blog. As I stated earlier, this blog is continually evolving; same goes for Twitter for me. I’ve been able to connect with local, regional, and national media or athletes through following them, asking questions (and saying thank you), RT’ing and getting “follows” back.

And so it was this past summer that I had my own list. It was a short and sweet list back then. If I were to do one now, it would definitely include more people. But then, it was perfect. They were people who answered my questions and didn’t treat me like I was some ignorant sports fan.  I may not have always agreed with what they had to say, but I respected their opinion. They, in turn, treated me with respect. Some even gave me RTs. For an “unofficial” media-type like me, that was huge. 

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SPORTS DEATHS: By far, the posts that generated the most traffic for me this year have been those regarding sports deaths. I wasn’t sure about doing them at first. I never thought they would generate so many hits. But in retrospect, it is easy to see why those generated the most traffic. The instant reaction to sports-deaths is a curiosity to many. People want to know what everyone was saying about someone who died. Twitter makes that easy. And for that, I’m grateful that these posts will be ever-lasting tributes. These are not all of them: 

Dan Wheldon

Bobby Rhine

Aaron Douglas

Robert “Tractor” Traylor

Mike Flanagan

Dave Gavitt

Brian Urlacher’s mom: Lavoyda Leonard

Tom Kowalski

Chester McGlockton

Joe Frazier

Al Davis

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PENN STATE: There is no way I could do this post without addressing the biggest sports story of the year. I don’t know that there is much to say on it that has not already been said. It is a story that broke my heart. I have worked with teenage girls who have been sexually abused as little girls. Needless to say, the story hit close to home. 

My emotions, like many on Twitter, have run the gamut from shock and bewilderment to anger and rage. None of those are constructive in and of themselves. The holiday season just past is keeping this story in the back of everyone’s mind; probably where many prefer it to be. But this story does not have an end. Oh sure, there will be a trial or trials, but for the victims, the story does not end. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. The memories will always be there. The only hope we as a society can have with this story is knowledge. 

Knowledge is power. Knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Whatever saying you want to use, we have knowledge that this is going on in sports. We always knew it but it took something like what happened with Jerry Sandusky and Penn State, and communication through Twitter, to bring this more into the national consciousness. 

And it will be because of Twitter that the dialogue will continue and shed light on other stories like this around the world. My posts: 

Hey Penn State – What About The Kids?

Spanning the Twitterverse: Penn State – 11/9/11

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It has been quite a ride these last 2+ years on Twitter. These last 8 months have been a learning experience for this fledgling Twitter reporter. I’m sure 2012 will have many more eye-openers in store. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to communicate in this way. And for the many new connections I have made through Twitter and this blog. 

Where will it all lead? I don’t know. Here’s hoping though for great stories and many new, open doors. 

Blessings to you all in 2012.

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CadChica Sports

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