Tweet Game On: Shaughnessy vs Foster

The Patriots vs Texans game this week took on an interesting new twist today.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans’ running back, changed his Twitter avatar to this:

Arian Foster Twitter avatarWhy? Because of an column written by The Boston Globe’s, Dan Shaughnessy. That avatar are the words from Shaughnessy’s article. Disrespecting of the Texans’ should not come as a surprise considering Shaughnessy covers the New England Patriots (the Texans’ AFC playoff opponent this weekend). I’ve had a few different train of thoughts on this – still deciding on which one is right:

  • Not surprising that someone in Boston would write that. Anything to stir the pot, get a reaction from fans, players – Shaughnessy got people talking,  even Foster is “talking” with his avatar, and that’s what he is paid to do. Here are some tweets I found of someone who has been in the industry (chronological from the bottom up) discussing that Shaughnessy doing what he’s “supposed to do”.

Mr. Sports Journo  BIGSPORTSWRITER  on Twitter

Mr. Sports Journo  BIGSPORTSWRITER  on Twitter 2

  • That Foster made the words his avatar is genius. He doesn’t have to say anything directly to the media. He doesn’t have to say “We get no respect.”. No possible misquoting here. Just a simple avatar change says it all: “I read your words. I acknowledge them. But I won’t comment any further.” 
  • In the days of social media, Shaughnessy is making himself a part of the story. Media shouldn’t be part of the story, but I believe it will become the norm. The abundance of sports media on Twitter, and their corresponding tweets, prompted this article last year from the NCAA’s, Ronnie Ramos, on objectivity being lost. I’ve even written on Twitter blurring the lines between fans and media (written inOctober 2011).

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So which is it? It’s all of the above.

  • Columnists, such as Shaughnessy, are paid to give their opinion. He gave his on the Texans. He got a reaction. He wins.
  • Avatars are a statement about you. Be it a photo of yourself or your company’s logo, it’s the first thing people see about you on Twitter. But with Foster’s use of Shaughnessy’s own words, it shows that an Avatar can become a not-so-silent-yet-silent statement. Subtle. I like it. Could see more athletes use that in the future – make a statement with an avatar. Again, no misquoting a picture. They might need to be careful but, it would get the point across.
  • With the rise, or continuing rise, of sites such as Deadspin, The Big Lead, and SB Nation, reporting nearly every little scrap of news is reported. Athlete whereabouts, compromising pictures, latest sports rumors and yes, even media Twitter fights, it’s all reported within minutes on Twitter. The stories have always been there but the medium for reporting  has changed. As newspapers die out, media has to adapt (i.e. get noticed, page views) or get out. With this tweet, I’m guessing Mr. Shaughnessy himself gets that new dynamic:

If someone didn’t want to be part of the story, do you think they’d tweet something like that?

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CadChica Sports

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