Frenemies John Calipari and Rick Pitino are at it again.
Earlier this week, some comments that Pitino made about the use of social media went viral. The irony of it? Twitter is the reason that his comments made it to every blog and every website, with social media being the catalyst for words being taken out of context.
Essentially, what Pitino said was that, for an athlete, it’s a waste of time to sit there and read through the responses that come through on twitter. It’s either over-the-top praise or vulgar, and at times racist, hate-speak.
He had a point, and a valid one.
Calipari was on Mike and Mike this morning, and he was asked about social media use among college athletes. Here is his response, in full. (If you’d rather listen to it, it starts at the 4:45 mark here):
“This is no disrespect, the coaches you mentioned, I respect them all. They know nothing about social media. Nothing. They don’t do it. They feel it’s another job. What I’m trying to tell our players, we train them, we bring in professional people, we talk about it, we oversee what they put out. If they put out something dumb, we talk to them and tell them why [it’s dumb]. ‘Why would you do that?’ We tell them, if you’re into reading the responses, don’t go on twitter!”
“Twitter is an opportunity. Facebook is an opportunity. To say what you feel. To try to pick people up. To try to be positive. To try to add something to society. To let people see you transparently. You cannot be defined if you’re on social media by someone else. You will define who you are, and if you’re negative, that’s your fault. But here is who you are. If you are negative, it will come through. Five years of being on twitter and facebook, are you gonna lie for five years? You are who you are. But we’re trying to tell those kids, you build your brand or you break your brand down. You are who you are through social media.”
“I’m not going to hold my team back from twitter or facebook, I’m going to teach them. How do you use it for a positive. I don’t read one response on twitter or facebook. There are a lot of bullies and haters on twitter. I don’t read them, I don’t see them. I give out information, I’m transparent to our fans. I tell them how I’m feeling. I talk about the last couple of practices. There are things I want my players to read that I’ll put out. I also have things that we do that only go to our players, that I put out that I want them to see and hear. Videos and different things. Social media, for anyone to say don’t do it, it’s crazy. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I go home, I got a 17 year old son, he doesn’t watch TV, he’s on the computer all day.”
Here’s the irony: Cal and Pitino basically put out the same message.
Both of them essentially said that it’s pointless to read through any response that comes through from anonymous fans on the internet. They are called trolls — or, as Cal put it, bullies and haters — for a reason.
Cal is selling his program. He’s always selling his program. Saying ‘we teach our players how to build their brand through social media’ is a soundbite that will play better when recruits see it in headlines than ‘the great class of underachievers live on the Internet and social media’.